Finally some mid-major love! Mark Few's squad is looking at a schedule similar to last year's. Oklahoma State visits Spokane in late November, and then a couple of games at Indiana and Arizona (probably seemed like decent tests at the time) will still be good preparation.
Things get juicy on Dec. 20—by far the best date on the schedule for non-conference college basketball. UConn visits Gonzaga, a rematch from last year where the Bulldogs prevailed on the road. Then the 'Zags have revenge on their mind Jan. 7 at Tennessee (82-72 loss last season), and Feb. 7 when they host Memphis (losses the last two years).
St. Mary's won't lay down, and be sure San Diego will have something to say about the West Coast Conference title before it's all said and done. Three WCC teams tasted March Madness last season, and they all want to give it another run this year.
Certainly not the same team we saw last year, but the Tigers still have a target on their back. A couple of MAAC opponents in the first three games should be laughers. I've created a mathematical equation for the Marist game on Dec. 2:
2X < Y/2
This isn't an insult to Memphis, it's actually a testament to head coach John Calipari's class. He grants games to ex-assistant coaches, including Chuck Martin, Marist's new head coach, who was Calipari's aide for two years.
Marist's team is practically in shambles, after losing its head coach, Matt Brady, to James Madison at the end of last season. After its star freshman transferred to VCU, only five scholarship players returned. Martin inherited quite a mess, and Marist has been picked to finish last in the MAAC. Calipari is just trying to help out.
I'm talking about the same three teams over and over.
Aside from the Gonzaga and Memphis home games, which have already been mentioned, Tennessee has volunteered (Get it?) to host Marquette in December and visit Kansas in January.
Cross your fingers—hopefully we should be seeing plenty of Pat Summitt in her cute cheerleading outfit again this season.
The Sooners are letting themselves down with a very weak non-conference schedule. Last year they played Memphis, Gonzaga, and USC. This year, USC is the only tough test before conference play starts. Unless the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore is the one from the ACC (that was a joke).
The Big 12 isn't as top-heavy in basketball as it is in football this year, so teams can get away with the easy scheduling...until March.
Oklahoma just has to be on upset watch when an upstart VCU team rolls into town on...that's right: Dec. 20!
I'm so excited about that day. Here's a list of some of the great games to watch:
VCU @ (14)Oklahoma
(7)Michigan St. @ (8) Texas
(5) Duke @ Xavier
(2) Connecticut @ (11) Gonzaga
(20) Davidson @ (10) Purdue
Syracuse @ (12) Memphis
My popcorn is ready.
(15) Arizona State
This isn't a top 25 team we're dealing with here, but nobody will know any better unless San Diego State or Pepperdine pull a November upset, or BYU rises to the occasion on...you guessed it: Dec. 20!
This could be the least impressive schedule for a top 25 team. It's worse than Louisville's.