Monday, November 8, 2010

Ranking The ACC Non-Conference Schedules

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The ACC conference, last season, did not get many bids to the NCAA tournament due to the fact that many teams had weak non-conference schedules. This season, the trend should be over.

At least every team in the ACC has a notable game before conference season begins.

That will be beneficial once Selection Sunday comes around. The ACC conference will be tough, and a teams non-conference performance could dictact its confidence heading into conference play.

Here is a look at the ACC non-conference schedules--easiest to hardest.

12. Clemson Tigers - Wofford, Michigan

The Clemson Tigers have the easiest non-conference schedule of any team in the ACC. The Tigers do not host any ranked opponents, and most of their opponents are mid-majors. With no Trevor Booker its not surprising, and if the Tigers cannot obtain marquee wins in the ACC the NCAA tournament may be out of reach.

11. Boston College Eagles - Texas A&M, Indiana, Providence

With a new head coach, and the loss of many players, the Eagles non-conference schedule has rebuild written all over it. The Eagles most notable non-conference game this season will be against Texas A&M, who did not received any votes from the AP poll, and was selected to finish 6th in the Big 12. Despite that, no other team that the Eagles will face is currently ranked, or even received votes by any panel for that matter.

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets - at Northwestern, Georgia

The Yellow Jackets lost both frontier forces in Derrick Favors, and Gani Lawal. This season, the Yellow Jackets will play notable non-conference teams in Northwestern and Georgia. Both teams have the chance to be really good this year, and received votes to be inside the top-25 of the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

9. Wake Forest Demon Decons - at Xavier, No. 12 Gonzaga

The Demon Decons were chosen by the coaches to finish last in the ACC. However, that did not stop them from scheduling two opponents that the Demon Decons can possibly upset on the road, and at home. Wake Forest will embrace the chance to battle it out with a fierce No. 12 Gonzaga team that ranks among the top in the league. Before then, the Demon Decons will have to contain high-scoring Terrell Holloway and the Musketeers.

8. Virginia Cavaliers - No. 18 Washington, at Minnesota

The Cavaliers, who were picked second-to-last in the ACC, will welcome a few solid teams. The Cavaliers will get the chance to target No. 18 Washington at home November 22nd. They will also go on the road to face a tough Minnesota team who I believe will surprise this season.

7. Miami Hurricanes - at No. 19 Memphis, at Rutgers, Ole Miss, West Virginia

The Hurricanes non-conference schedule is a lot tougher than it was last year. They will be on the road for arguably one of the biggest games early on in the season against No. 19 Memphis. The 'Canes will also play a tough Ole Miss, and West Virginia squad. I'm impressed by the scheduling of Miami. If the 'Canes are able to pull away at the least two of these wins they'll be prepared for conference play.

6. Maryland Terrapins - vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh, No. 22 Temple

Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams has his work cut out for him. He did not return his senior but will still open up the season with a top-5 opponent in the Pittsburgh Panthers. That will be the toughest until No. 22 Temple takes a trip to Maryland on the fifth of December.

5. North Carolina State Wolfpack - at Wisconsin, at No. 10 Syracuse, Arizona

The Wolfpack did not benefit from last years non-conference schedule but this year NC State will. The Wolfpack will open up December with back-to-back games against tough opponents. Wisconsin is going to be a tough game, as well as, the young but talented Arizona Wildcats. The biggest game will occur December 4th when NC State travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies - at No. 3 Kansas State, No. 14 Purdue, Penn State, Ole Miss

Last season, the Hokies were snubbed because of their weak non-conference schedule. This season, the Hokies scheduled No. 3 Kansas State, and No. 14 Purdue. No doubt, the opening game against the Wildcats is the toughest opening game for any team this season. Penn State could pose a threat, and Ole Miss could be a crucial game as well.

3. Florida State Seminoles - No. 9 Florida, No. 4 Ohio State

The Seminoles have the chance to make the NCAA tournament if they knock off one of these teams. The Seminoles will host both No. 9 Florida, and No. 4 Ohio State at home. No other team in the ACC will face two top-10 teams at home, which solidifies their strength of schedule.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels - at No. 13 Illinois, No. 11 Kentucky, Texas

The Tar Heels continue to have tough schedules, although last season schedule was a little tougher. This year North Carolina will travel to a stacked No. 13 Illinois team led by Demetri McCamey. They will also host No. 11 Kentucky at home who could be inside the top-10 once they hit the court against the 'Heels. Texas may pose a problem with two talented newcomers.

1. Duke Blue Devils - Marquette, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 17 Butler

The Blue Devils, without a question, have the toughest non-conference schedule in the ACC. The Blue Devils may have the chance to play No. 3 K-State early in the season, as well as a tough Marquette team. No. 2 Michigan State will visit Duke in a pivotal game against the top teams in the NCAA. No. 17 Butler will also seek revenge when they visit Duke.

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