The UConn men's basketball team released its non-conference schedule Tuesday. While there are some compelling match-ups, the Huskies will be playing too many games against some of the lowest-rated Division I basketball teams in the country. The former manager of this blog, @Noescalators, detailed it up nicely in a Twitter rant this afternoon.
Not every game has to be a big one, but when you schedule Furman (294) instead of Gardner Webb (134) you are FUCKING yourself.
— We take the stairs (@NoEscalators) June 23, 2015
The point is, UConn can't be scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to scheduling non-conference filler. Simply playing a Division II team or a slightly less crappy team would lead to a significantly better RPI. Adding the American Athletic Conference basement-dwellers, some of them twice, furthers the problem. The Huskies are doing themselves a disservice by not taking advantage of the RPI trickery that other major programs have been able to master. Ultimately, UConn will need to win a lot of games and capitalize on the few opportunities to earn an RPI-boosting win.
Ken Pomeroy's numbers make the Huskies' schedule look even weaker. Even with games against Ohio State (21), Texas (24), Georgetown (25) and Maryland (32), UConn's confirmed non-conference opponents had an average final ranking of 181.8 in the KenPom ratings last season. Four opponents—Furman (305), UMass Lowell (311), Central Connecticut (341) and Maine (345)—ranked 300th or worse. Remember, there are 351 Division I programs. Surely, UConn could have scheduled stronger opponents, even right here in New England. Play Quinnipiac instead of Central Connecticut. Play Harvard instead of UMass Lowell. Play Rhode Island instead of any of them.
But seriously, if UConn could schedule something against URI soon, that would be great. The Rams are on the rise, and it would nice to get a Connecticut-Rhode Island showdown going.
Still, there is a lot to be excited about. UConn will be in the Bahamas Nov. 25-27 to compete against an exciting field in the Battle-4-Atlantis. The field includes Syracuse, Michigan, Gonzaga, Texas A&M, Texas, Charlotte and Washington. The exact bracket has yet to be released.
On Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Huskies will grace Madison Square Garden for a second New York City match-up with Maryland in three years. UConn and Maryland last met at the Barclays Center to kick off the 2013-14 season with the Huskies prevailing by one point. The last time the Huskies played at MSG, they were cutting down the nets after securing a fifth Final Four berth.
Elsewhere on the home docket, UConn will be hosting Ohio State and the perennial early-NCAA Tournament dropouts from Georgetown. The Buckeyes will visit Dec. 12 while the Hoyas will close out the non-conference schedule on Jan. 23. At least one of these games needs to be at Gampel Pavilion. The school has yet to release the Gampel/XL Center split.
On Tuesday, Dec. 28, the Huskies travel to Austin for a meeting with the Texas Longhorns. This is the return visit of a home-and-home which started last year with a heartbreaking buzzer-beater loss at Gampel.