Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ranking The Big East Non-Conference Schedules

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Last season, the Big East conference had a lot of bids once Selection Sunday came around. That was because of physical conference play, and marquee wins.

This season, the conference has one of the weaker non-conference schedules, collectively. The Big East conference teams will only play 15 ranked opponents total, and six teams will not play one at all.

That doesn't mean the conference season will not still be among the best in the country. Here is a look at the conference non-conference schedules, worst to best.

16. St. John's Red Storm - @Saint Mary Gaels, Davidson Wildcats

St. Johns opens the season with the weakest non-conference schedule in the Big East. The Red Storm does not play any ranked teams, or prominent programs as they did a year before. St. Johns has two "tough" games at Saint Mary's and against Davidson.

15. DePaul Blue Demons - Oklahoma State Cowboys*

Last season, the Blue Demons scheduled a few tough SEC opponents. This season, DePaul will only play against a decent Big 12 program in Oklahoma State. The rest are mid-major programs.

14. Cincinnati Bearcats - Dayton Flyers, @Oklahoma Sooners

The Cincinnati Bearcats will have to do a great job during conference play because their non-conference schedule will not win over the selection committee. The Bearcats have two decent games, one at home where Cincinnati host the Flyers. The Bearcats will then travel to take on the Oklahoma Sooners.

13. West Virginia Mountaineers - Davidson Wildcats, @Miami (FL) Hurricanes, Robert Morris Colonials

Despite their less than stellar non-conference games, the Mountaineers should be set headed into conference play. The Mountaineers will play Davidson which should not be a easy-task. West Virginia will also travel to take on Durand Scott and the Miami Hurricanes. Last years Robert Morris team made the tournament and almost upset Villanova, and could pose a problem for the Wildcats.

12. Providence Friars - @Boston College Eagles, Alabama Crimson Tide

The Friars will compete against  the same teams this season, as they did the year before. The Friars will play Boston College again, however, this time it will be on the road. The Friars are also playing an improved Alabama team led by freshman Trevor Releford.

11. South Florida Bulls - @Central Florida Knights, Brigham Young Cougars, Auburn Tigers

The South Florida Bulls will get a chance to pick up some marquee wins before conference play. The BYU Cougars returned Jimmer Fredette, AP Preseason All-American, who will travel to take on the Bulls. South Florida will also travel to play Central Florida, and Auburn.

10. Villanova Wildcats - No. 22 Temple Owls, Maryland Terrapins

The Villanova Wildcats have one of the weaker non-conference schedules in recent memory. The Wildcats will welcome in a ranked Temple team that gave Villanova their first loss a season ago. They will also welcome in the high-powered Terrapins offense led by junior guard Sean Mosley.

9. Pittsburgh Panthers - Maryland Terrapins, Robert Morris Colonials, No. 20 Tennessee Volunteers

The Pittsburgh Panthers were selected to breeze through the conference. Their non-conference schedule doesn't speak championship language. The Panthers only face one ranked team in the Volunteers, who were recently defeated by a Division II school, and sub-par opponents like Robert Morris, and Maryland.

8. Connecticut Huskies - @No. 25 Texas Longhorns, @No. 20 Tennessee Volunteers

The UConn Huskies are poised to rebound and show teams they are for real. The Huskies have two road games scheduled against top-25 opponents. Pulling a win from at least one should set them up great heading into conference play.

7. Seton Hall Pirates - @No. 22 Temple Owls, Alabama Crimson Tide, @Arkansas Razorbacks, Dayton Flyer, Richmond Spiders 

Seton Hall continues to get better, and so does its non-conference schedule. The Pirates will get a rematch with the Owls who handed them their first loss on the season. Seton Hall will also welcome in talented teams such as Alabama, Dayton, and Richmond.

6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Miami (FL) Hurricanes, Auburn Tigers, @No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels

It's not going to be easy for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers will welcome in both Miami (FL) and the Auburn Tigers. Nonetheless, the biggest game will come on the road against ninth-ranked North Carolina.

5. Syracuse Orange - Detroit Titans, North Carolina State Wolfpack, No. 2 Michigan State Spartans

The Syracuse Orange will have a stellar non-conference season. The Detroit Titans will be lead by five-star freshman Ray McCallum. The Orange will also welcome in NC State, with one of the most dynamic freshman trio's in all of College Basketball. Tom Izzo will bring his second-ranked Spartans in town for the biggest game of their non-conference schedule.

4. Louisville Cardinals - No. 18 Butler, UNLV Rebels, No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats

The Cardinals will open up the season with a matchup against the No. 18 Butler Bulldogs, who were runner-ups last year. Louisville will also get a chance to pick up a key win against the Rebels at home. No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats will also visit for an in-state showdown.

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Georgia Bulldogs*, @No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats, No. 12 Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Fighting Irish may have lost Luke Harangody but will not stop scheduling key opponents. Notre Dame will play an electrifying Georgia team that might crack the top-25 before they play. The Fighting Irish will also travel to play a top-10 in the Kentucky Wildcats, and host the No. 12 ranked Bulldogs.

2. Marquette Golden Eagles - @No. 1 Duke Blue Devils, No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers, @Vanderbilt Commodores 

There is no tougher task than being asked to travel to a hostile environment like Cameron Indoor Stadium and take on the No. 1 team in the country. The Golden Eagles will play Duke on the road, as well as Vanderbilt. Marquette also welcomes in No. 24 Wisconsin in a pivotal non-conference showdown.

1. Georgetown Hoyas - @No. 15 Missouri Tigers, @No. 22 Temple Owls, @No. 19 Memphis Tigers

The Hoyas will open the season on the road against an NCAA tournament team in the Old Dominion Monarchs. After that, the rest of their road games are against top-25 opponents. The Hoyas will grapple a chance to knock off Missouri, Temple, and Memphis on the road in pivotal non-conference games.

(* means neutral location)

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