The countdown to the 2019-2020 UConn men’s basketball season took one more step forward today with the release of the Huskies’ complete non-conference schedule. Among the heavyweight matchups are bouts against the likes of preseason top 10 teams Florida and Villanova, as well as Indiana and Buffalo.
It all kicks off on Fri. Nov. 8, when in-state Sacred Heart heads into town for the first time in four years. Then there’s a rematch with A-10 heavy St. Joseph’s, although this time there’s no Amida Brimah to bail us out. This will count as the unbracketed fourth game of the Charleston Classic.
On Sun. Nov. 17, UConn and Florida will renew their home-and-home rivalry starting next year too, and we all know what happened last time the two teams met in Storrs (hint: it was good). This year, the Gators are loaded, adding former Va. Tech standout Kerry Blackshear Jr. on grad transfer to an already stacked roster.
Then it’s off to beautiful South Carolina for the Huskies’ first-ever Charleston Classic. First up is Buffalo in the first round at TD Arena in Charleston on Thurs. Nov. 21. UConn will challenge either future conference pal Xavier or Towson on Fri. Nov. 22. The Huskies finish the tournament on Sun. Nov. 24, against an opponent from among Florida, St. Joseph’s, Missouri State or Miami (Fla.).
UConn and Maine will meet for the 101st time on Sat. Nov. 30, and MAAC stalwart Iona for the first time in 10 years on Wed. Dec. 4.
Of course it wouldn’t be a non-conference slate without a trip to the Garden. The Jimmy V Classic game against Indiana (deja vu, anyone?) at Madison Square Garden takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Continuing their MAAC tour, the Huskies take on St. Peter’s for the first time in 33 years on Wed. Dec. 18, and New Hampshire on Sun. Dec. 22. Likely a new Hurley connection, a first-ever game against NJIT takes place on Sun. Dec. 29.
After AAC Conference play has begun, the Huskies will close out their non-conference schedule at Villanova on Saturday, Jan. 18. And now let’s all take a collective sigh of relief that this will be the last year the words ‘non-conference’ and ‘Villanova’ will be used in the same sentence.
Of next year’s non-conference foes, which do you think finished 2019 with the best RPI? If you answered Buffalo, you either went to the University of Buffalo or watched entirely too much college basketball last year. Buffalo finished last year 22nd in RPI, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that has watched Nate Oats coach. Oats is off to greener pastures in Alabama, but the Bulls should still be formidable. Florida (26) and Villanova (30) are also strong scalps to be had in terms of RPI, as are Indiana (52), and possibly Xavier (65) or Miami (75).
On the other end of the spectrum —and once again going strictly off of RPI — the weaker crop of games where losses could prove devastating include St. Peter’s (316), Maine (338), and New Hampshire (345). As the season draws closer, we’ll break down each opponent in greater detail.