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Preseason Rankings: UConn Men’s Basketball and Opponents

A quick look at the college basketball’s rankings for UConn and its opponents.

NCAA Basketball: Temple at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball is officially back. Conference media days have wrapped up and we’ve seen rankings of all Division I teams from the following media outlets: CBS, ESPN, KenPom and Sports Illustrated. With the beginning of the Dan Hurley-era only a few days away, here’s where UConn and each opponent on its 2018-19 schedule appear in each of those rankings:

UConn

CBS: 64

ESPN: 117

KenPom: 102

Sports Illustrated: 84

Composite: 92

Media Day Predicted Finish: Fifth (out of 12 teams)

AAC Blogger Poll: Sixth (out of 12 teams)

Opponents

Team Conference Media Day Predicted Finish CBS ESPN KenPom SI Composite
Team Conference Media Day Predicted Finish CBS ESPN KenPom SI Composite
Morehead State OVC 10/12 285 227 208 293 253
UMKC WAC 7/9 299 260 262 295 279
Syracuse ACC 4/15 14 15 8 22 15
Oregon* Pac-12 1/12 12 14 27 16 17
Iowa* B1G 10/14 59 44 35 63 50
Cornell Ivy 6/8 258 253 253 219 246
New Hampshite America East 8/9 286 314 308 309 304
UMass-Lowell America East 9/9 315 297 310 318 310
Arizona Pac-12 4/12 42 64 76 49 58
Lafayette Patriot 9/10 305 288 290 288 293
Florida State ACC 7/15 19 20 15 14 17
Manhattan MAAC 8/11 239 290 285 277 273
Drexel CAA 9/10 264 270 295 259 272
Villanova Big East 1/10 9 6 5 9 7
USF AAC 12/12 192 269 287 246 249
UCF AAC 1/12 31 67 70 40 52
SMU AAC 6/12 78 55 37 121 73
Cincinnati AAC 2/12 26 37 44 32 35
Tulsa AAC 9/12 120 97 114 136 117
Tulane AAC 10/12 184 190 189 189 188
Wichita State AAC 8/12 99 74 72 87 83
East Carolina AAC 11/12 273 292 279 209 263
Temple AAC 6/12 69 79 82 80 78
Memphis AAC 4/12 84 110 107 110 103
Houston AAC 3/12 40 40 45 71 49
*Will only play one of these teams in the second game of the 2K Empire Classic

Analysis

Note: The NCAA Tournament selection committee now uses quadrant system to determine quality wins as opposed to just straight RPI rankings. According to Sports Illustrated, Quadrant 1 wins are those home games vs. teams RPI ranked 1-30, neutral games vs. 1-50, and away games vs. 1–75. For example, a home win against a top 30 team would qualify as a quadrant one victory. A Quadrant 2 win are those at Home against the RPI 31–75, neutral 51–100, and away victories over the RPI 76–135.

At first glance, UConn’s non-conference schedule looks great with big names like Villanova, Syracuse, Florida State and Arizona. However, after looking through the rankings, it becomes clear just how top-heavy the schedule actually is. Of the 13 non-conference opponents, there appears to be only four opportunities for a Quadrant 1 win (Villanova, Syracuse, Oregon/Iowa, Florida State).

Arizona has potential to be an opportunity for a Quadrant 2 win, but the Wildcats will likely be taking a big step back this year with an entirely different starting five from last season. In fact, Sean Miller has likened this year’s team to the 2009-10 Wildcats team that went 16-15 and missed the NCAA tournament. Outside of those five games, the rest of the non-conference schedule is made up of teams that have each been picked to finish in the bottom three of their respective conferences.

The importance of a strong non-conference schedule for UConn has been talked about ad nauseam since the Huskies have joined The American due to the lack of opportunities for quality wins in-conference. It appears to be more of the same this year, with the only potential Q1 opponent played at home will be Cincinnati. There will be opportunities on the road, but conference road wins have been hard to come by the last couple of years (5-13 with wins against USF, UCF, Temple, Tulane and East Carolina). UConn’s conference schedule should have a few opportunities for a Q2 home win, though, with home games against Houston, UCF and SMU and road games against UCF, SMU and Temple.

UConn’s early schedule does appear to be set up in a way where they could head into bigger match-ups against Syracuse, Arizona and Florida State on a roll and playing with some confidence. Although it is quite a tall task for a team coming off of back-to-back losing seasons, if UConn is able to eke out a couple of Q1 and Q2 wins in the non-conference and buoy that with a few Q2 wins in the conference, Dan Hurley could have UConn back in the NCAA Tournament in his first season at the helm.