In the wake of Thursday's basketball schedule release, we've already given you our first take on the ACC portion of the schedule. But what about the non-conference portion?
|Fri||Nov. 10||UNC Greensboro||TBD||TBD|
|Mon||Nov. 13||Austin Peay||TBD||TBD|
|Fri||Nov. 17||at VCU||4 p.m.||CBSSN|
|Thu||Nov. 23||Vanderbilt (N)||4 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Fri||Nov. 24||Seton Hall OR Rhode Island (N)||TBD||TBD|
|Mon||Nov. 27||Wisconsin||9 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Tue||Dec. 5||at West Virginia||7 p.m.||ESPNU|
|Tue||Dec. 19||Savannah State||TBD||TBD|
Long story short, there's a lot to like.
We're a green team, with 3 freshmen, 3 sophomores, and one new-to-us senior making up the bulk of our projected 10 man roster. This calls for a slightly lighter non-conference slate than we're used to, plenty of opportunities for the new players to gel, and for the sophomores to adjust to the heavier burden.
Of our 12 games, we've got one I'm going to go ahead an pencil in as a loss, and that's at West Virginia. They're a tough, veteran team, that beat us soundly last year on our court; winning in Morgantown is not likely.
After that, we've got some opponents that should be low-level NCAA Tournament or NIT quality squads, which will provide good stiff tests. Those include a road trip to VCU, Vanderbilt in Brooklyn, Seton Hall or Rhode Island in the second Brooklyn game, and hosting Wisconsin. I'd put us at even or better with each of these squads, but that's not to say that any of them are guaranteed.
- Our quality guard quartet of Nigel, Ty, Kyle, and Devon should be able to handle Havoc, and the 4pm Friday start time should quell a bit of the Siegel Center's raucousness.
- Vanderbilt returns the core of its 19-win, KenPom #33 squad from last year (NCAAT 9-seed), and have one of my favorite young coaches, Bryce Drew, who'll have them ready for a fight.
- Wisconsin returns preseason All-American big man Ethan Happ, but loses a lot of other talent off last year's Sweet 16 squad. Our system has proven adept at handling teams built around a post threat.
Beyond that, it's seven "should win" games, ranging from gentler tests (Davidson) to layups (Hampton). There's no trap road game like the trip to George Washington a couple years ago, so the home court advantage should be enough to counter any upset-minded squads that come to visit.
We'll do a full game-by-game breakdown of the season as opening night gets closer, but for now, we see this optimistically as around a 10-2 kind of non-conference schedule [Ed. - Seattle rounds "around 10-2" up to 11-1], which should leave us well tuned up for the ACC slate at the end of December.