There was a lot of schedule news while I was out watching bad baseball and enjoying the Seattle weather (then returning back to the DC humidity, getting sick, and catching up at work), so let me get right to it.
The Big East revealed the conference opponents for each of its 16 teams. (Big East, could you get the link on your own website to work, please.) It's not easy (or fair) to come up with an 18-game slate for a 16-team conference without divisions. In general, it looks like the schedule makers struck a decent balance based on last year's results. Powers (Syracuse, Pitt, Villanova, West Virginia) have two power teams as home-and-home partners, more often than not, while non-powers (Cincinnati, DePaul, Rutgers, St. John's) face two other strugglers twice.
Here are those home-and-home partners for each team.
Cincinnati: DePaul, Georgetown, St. John's
Connecticut: Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame
DePaul: Cincinnati, USF, West Virginia
Georgetown: Cincinnati, St. John's, Syracuse
Louisville: Connecticut, Providence, West Virginia
Marquette: Connecticut, Notre Dame, Seton Hall
Notre Dame: Connecticut, Marquette, St. John's
Pittsburgh: USF, Villanova, West Virginia
Providence: Louisville, Rutgers, USF
Rutgers: Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova
St. John's: Cincinnati, Georgetown, Notre Dame
Seton Hall: Marquette, Rutgers, Syracuse
USF: DePaul, Pittsburgh, Providence
Syracuse: Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova
Villanova: Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse
West Virginia: DePaul, Louisville, Pittsburgh
It's good to see Syracuse-Georgetown twice, among the numerous Orange road trip opportunities on the slate. As Sean over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician wrote,
"Seems like the conference finally realized this is a non-negotiable thing that needs to happen. Why bother having a Big East otherwise?"
The three Louisville home-and-homes jump out at me for different reasons: UConn because Pitino vs. Calhoun is always interesting TV (which is a big reason for this whole business), Providence for the sentimentality angle, and West Virginia because of that pre-Big East 2005 West Regional Final, the first of four games in what will always be in my estimation, the greatest Elite Eight ever.
After the jump, I'll have some other scheduling news.
Duke-North Carolina moves ever closer to Yankees-Red Sox level overload with the news that CBS will air the schools' Saturday, March 5 meeting in Chapel Hill in primetime, with a tip time of just after 8 p.m. Eastern. The press release somewhat proudly points out that, "This marks the first time that the Duke-North Carolina rivalry will air in prime time on network television."
I'm amazed this took as long as it did.
However, there's plenty of other schedule news, since basketball is played in places other than Big East arenas and on Tobacco Road.
BYU hosts Hawai'i in Salt Lake City in the first of two consecutive December Saturday tilts at the home of the Jazz. The Cougars host the Warriors on December 4 and Arizona a week later, on the 11th.
Besides the trip to Utah, Hawai'i's schedule includes the Diamond Head Classic, a game against Chicago State at the Lahaina Civic Center, and the season-opening Rainbow Classic round-robin, featuring Montana State, Cal State Fullerton, and Central Michigan.
Iowa's non-conference slate may provide Fran McCaffery only few early wins in his first season at the helm, emphasis on "should," considering the Hawkeyes' lack of success in the CBE Classic at the beginning of 2009-10, which set the table for a disappointing year. A trip to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam will be tough, especially as Iowa will have to play Xavier in the quarterfinal. A trip to Wake Forest and a home game against Northern Iowa will also be difficult--and watch for the Iowa State and Louisiana Tech games as well.
Maryland may want to ask for permission to join the Big Five, as both Villanova and Temple may be on the schedule for this season. (And the Terrapins would be more likely to get it than Drexel. Harumph.) The key word is "may" as the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Barker says there's conflicting info on whether Maryland will play Nova in Philly this season or next. Temple is confirmed as the Terps' opponent at early December's BB&T Classic, however.
Last season, Gonzaga hosted Oklahoma in the last college basketball game played in 2009. This year, the Bulldogs and Oklahoma State may fill that role, as they meet New Year's Eve (time to be determined). The Cowboys will host the Zags in 2012-13.
Temple's schedule is as difficult as ever, thanks to Big Five commitments, a healthy number of games against MAC teams (thanks to the Owls' football membership), and some big home-and-home series. The Owls not only have that BB&T game against Maryland, but they'll travel to Disney World for the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving weekend and Cameron Indoor to face Duke in January. That's the first of a home-and-home. The Owls also host Georgetown to wrap up another series.
Texas' schedule also features numerous marquee matchups: Two from Illinois, Maryland, and Pitt in New York in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic; a visit to USC in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series; a pre-Christmas trip to Greensboro to play UNC and East Lansing to face Michigan State; and January home dates with Arkansas and Connecticut. The question for Rick Barnes' team is how good will the Trojans, Tar Heels, Razorbacks, and Huskies be this time around.
UCLA's schedule is heavy on California schools and Big Sky opponents, outside of the NIT Season Tip-Off, a trip to Kansas for the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series, and a visit from former coach Steve Lavin's St. John's Red Storm in February.
Wright State travels to Cincinnati this season, but will get to host the Bearcats next season, as part of two-for-one deal. The Raiders host Air Force and visit Charlotte this season, reversing those fixtures in 2011-12. Wright State will get a chance at some marquee wins at the Chicago Invitational, where they'll face two out of Purdue, Richmond, and Southern Illinois. The Spiders replace Arkansas, who was originally listed for this event.
High Point visits local rivals Wake Forest this year, but the Panthers will welcome the Demon Deacons to the Millis Center in 2011.
In expansion fallout, there are some mixed feelings among the coaches about the Big 12 moving to a double round-robin schedule when the league drops to 10 teams, a move that should really be a no-brainer.
Get it done, Big 12 (or whatever you'll be calling yourself). With the Pac-10 jumping to 12, you're the only hope for a true round-robin among the six BCS conferences. You have no excuse for making things difficult, as the Big East is forced to.