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Analyzing The Big Ten's Non-Conference Schedules For 2016-17

After writing this, I have the urge to indulge in some sweet baked goods.

If you visit many of SB Nation's Big Ten team blogs and do a search for "non-conference" schedule, you're bound to run into a post or two criticizing a team's non-conference scheduling. Here's an Iowa oneHere's one about NorthwesternAnd another. Hey! Maryland's new, maybe they'll be different?! Nope. Perhaps you'd like to read a piece from The Champaign Room calling out a good chunk of the league for not scheduling a game worthy of a Top 14 list?

After spending a Sunday afternoon writing this post, I fully understand these frustrations. And these schedules, which my metrics also dislike, largely won't make up for some of the Big Ten's recent postseason issues. I'm not just talking about the conference's title drought, which now stands at 16 years. No, my criticism extends to how these weak schedules affect NCAA and NIT selection. Just look at last season, when Ohio State didn't make the field of 68 despite 11 conference wins and Northwestern received no NIT interest despite recording 20 wins. In both cases, the snubs were directly related to the teams' respective non-conference schedules. (Yes, the NIT is that competitive now, particularly in seasons where conference regular season champs run into trouble during Championship Week, as happened in 2016.)

After reviewing this year's slates, expect similar problems in March 2017.

For a full explanation of this series' methodology and what these rankings mean (and why certain games appear twice with strikethroughs), check out the intro piece.

Update 10/10/16: While finishing the Mountain West post, I noticed that San Diego State added a home game against Savannah State since I first started it. Therefore, scores and rankings have been updated as a result.

Update 10/11/16: While reviewing the Pac-12's schedules again for that post, I noticed that Oregon added not one but two games since I started—one against (drumroll) Savannah State (!) and another against non-D1 Western Washington. That really shook up the standings and averages, so these have again been updated.

Mean Schedule Ranking

Team

Opponent Score

Distance From Average
(1.406)

At-Large Pool Rank
(out of 135)
Big Ten Rank
(out of 14)
Michigan State 1.648 +0.242 17 1
Nebraska 1.548 +0.141 35 2
Penn State 1.540 +0.134 37 3
Purdue 1.463 +0.057 52 4
Wisconsin 1.388 -0.018 73 5
Iowa 1.323 -0.083 83 6
Illinois 1.292 -0.115 89 7
Michigan 1.276 -0.131 98 8
Ohio State 1.240 -0.166 100 9
Maryland 1.232 -0.174 104 10
Rutgers 1.185 -0.221 109 11
Northwestern 1.168 -0.248 114 12
Minnesota 1.139 -0.267 119 13
Indiana 1.118 -0.288 127 14
Big Ten Average 1.326 -0.081 8 of 9*

* AAC, A 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, MW, Pac-12, and SEC

Out of the nine conferences I'm analyzing separately in this series, the Big Ten ranks second from the bottom in all three rankings. Only five squads have average opponents scores higher than the national average, with more teams—six—ranking 100th or worse. In many cases, anywhere from four to eight opponents—cupcakes Big Ten squads should not be scheduling at all—drive the scores down.

As usual, Michigan State leads the way, but a trip to Navy (even if it's for the right reasons) and four terrible home games keep the Spartans at the very edge of the top 20 nationally. At the other end of the scale, an Indiana squad dinged for its schedule when seedings came out last March put itself in position to have the same problem this time around.

Best-Case (Maximum) Schedule Ranking

Team

Opponent Score

Distance From Average
(1.445)

At-Large Pool Rank
(out of 135)
Big Ten Rank
(out of 14)
Michigan State 1.680 +0.235 19 1
Nebraska 1.647 +0.203 27 2
Penn State 1.558 +0.113 45 3
Purdue 1.483 +0.039 60 4
Wisconsin 1.458 +0.013 64 5
Iowa 1.331 -0.114 86 6
Illinois 1.296 -0.149 95 7
Michigan 1.279 -0.165 98 8
Maryland 1.265 -0.179 103 9
Ohio State 1.240 -0.205 106 10
Rutgers 1.185 -0.260 116 11
Northwestern 1.177 -0.268 118 12
Minnesota 1.139 -0.305 126 13
Indiana 1.118 -0.326 130 14
Big Ten Average 1.347 -0.098 8 of 9*

* AAC, A 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, MW, Pac-12, and SEC

Note that three of the Big Ten's 14 teams—Indiana, Minnesota, and Rutgers—are participating in round-robin exempt events, so their scores will remain stable in all three rankings. That's not good for any of the three, as their scores all plummet when compared to their conference rivals who are participating in bracketed events.

Worst-Case (Minimum) Schedule Ranking

Team

Opponent Score

Distance From Average
(1.360)

At-Large Pool Rank
(out of 135)
Big Ten Rank
(out of 14)
Michigan State 1.601 +0.241 17 1
Penn State 1.521 +0.161 30 2
Purdue 1.442 +0.082 43 3
Nebraska 1.439 +0.079 45 4
Iowa 1.315 -0.045 75 5
Illinois 1.287 -0.073 82 6
Michigan 1.272 -0.088 88 7
Ohio State 1.240 -0.120 93 8
Wisconsin 1.236 -0.124 94 9
Maryland 1.199 -0.162 105 10
Rutgers 1.185 -0.175 108 11
Northwestern 1.159 -0.201 110 12
Minnesota 1.139 -0.22 116 13
Indiana 1.118 -0.242 121 14
Big Ten Average 1.297 -0.060 8 of 9*

* AAC, A 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, MW, Pac-12, and SEC

Curiously, the Hoosiers, Golden Gophers, and Scarlet Knights all see their scores jump if their 11 rivals are all projected to fall to the last-place game in their respective exempt events. Such a drop would be particularly hard on Wisconsin and Nebraska, since the bottom half of the Wooden Legacy and Maui fields aren't all that strong (and such a fall would result in the Badgers facing D2 Chaminade).

True Road And Non-D1 Games

True Road Games
Scheduled
True Road Games
Scheduled Against
Non-Power 6 Teams
Non-Division I Games
Scheduled
21
(4 Gavitt Games, 7 ACC/B1G)
4 4-5


When you remove the Big Ten's two conference challenges out of the picture, the 14 teams couldn't even manage to schedule a single road game apiece. More distressing, however, are the four games against non-Division I opponents that are locked in. While you can kind of excuse Rutgers on this front, thanks to their recent awfulness, Illinois, Maryland, and Nebraska really should be able to do better.

Before getting into my individual team analyses, I must advise you to be careful if you're prone to sugar shock.

Team Capsules

Illinois

Illinois Fighting Illini

Average Opponent Score 1.292 (avg.); 1.296 (max.); 1.287 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 89th (avg.); 95th (max.); 82nd (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 7th (avg.); 7th (max.); 6th (min.)
Exempt Event* NIT Season Tip-Off (two at home, two at Brooklyn)
True Home Games
(8)
Semi-Home Games
(1)
True Neutral-Site Games
(4)

Semi-Away Games
(0)

True Away Games
(0)

North Carolina State
(ACC/B1G)
Central Michigan
Detroit*
Winthrop*
Northern Kentucky
IUPUI
Southeast Missouri
McKendree (non-D1)

BYU
(Chicago)

West Virginia*
Florida State/
Temple*
VCU
(Miami)
Missouri
(St. Louis)


After a year out of the postseason and three out of the NCAAs, the pressure is on John Groce to get his team back to the field of 68. This November and December, the Fighting Illini won't have to play a good chunk of their non-conference schedule in Springfield, as in 2015: the State Farm Center/Assembly Hall will be ready to go from tip-off. Considering Illinois lost to North Florida and Chattanooga—both eventual auto bid winners—in its temporary home, that's a positive.

The opponents visiting Champaign, on the other hand, are a negative, meaning the Illini will have to do a ton of work in their five neutral-site games. The NIT Season Tip-Off draw is unkind, as West Virginia is probably the strongest team in the field, while the Braggin' Rights Game in St. Louis pits a pair of coaches on the hot seat. Note that the Illini have won three in a row over Mizzou.

That means the second game in Brooklyn, against either FSU or Temple, and contests in Miami and Chicago might have outsized importance for Illinois heading into the always-challenging Big Ten slate.

Indiana

Indiana Hoosiers

Average Opponent Score 1.118
At-Large Pool Ranking 127th (avg.); 130th (max.); 121st (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 14th (avg.); 14th (max.); 14th (min.)
Exempt Event* Indiana Classic (three at home, one away)
True Home Games
(9)
Semi-Home Games
(1)
True Neutral-Site Games
(2)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(1)

North Carolina
(ACC/B1G)
Austin Peay
Southeast Missouri
SIU Edwardsville
Liberty*
Houston Baptist
Delaware State
UMass Lowell*
Mississippi Valley State*

Louisville
(Indianapolis)

Kansas
(Honolulu)
Butler
(Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)

Fort Wayne*


The Hoosiers play four marquee games, with three of those away from home, along with an odd road game at Fort Wayne. That contest against the Mastodons counts as a home game for the Summit League favorites (note the grey shading on Indiana's schedule) despite being part of an IU-organized exempt tournament (that BTN is airing and Indiana apparently controls the tickets to).

So, with those five games on the slate, why does Indiana have the worst non-conference slate in the Big Ten and among the worst in the at-large pool? Well, remember that my ratings don't give teams much credit for home games against poorly-ranked Division I teams, and Tom Crean and his staff put eight of those on the schedule. So, if the Hoosiers find themselves in bubble trouble during league play, you'll know why. (Barring wins in those five higher-quality games.)

Iowa

Iowa Hawkeyes

Average Opponent Score 1.323 (avg.); 1.331 (max.); 1.315 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 83rd (avg.); 86th (max.); 75th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 6th (avg.); 6th (max.); 5th (min.)
Exempt Event* Emerald Coast Classic (two at home, two at Niceville, Fla.)
True Home Games
(9)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(3)

Semi-Away Games
(0)

True Away Games
(1)

Iowa State
Seton Hall
(Gavitt Games)
Omaha
North Dakota
Stetson
Savannah State*
Kennesaw State
Delaware State
UTRGV*

Virginia*
Providence/
Memphis*
Northern Iowa
(Des Moines)

Notre Dame
(ACC/B1G)


In recent years, Iowa has gotten into the habit of building fans' hopes up by the time February rolls around, only to eventually stumble into NCAA play. Things might go in the opposite direction in 2016-17, simply because the Hawkeyes lost a lot of talent from the squad Villanova eliminated in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. With that in mind, Fran McCaffrey has a schedule that ... honestly doesn't look all that different from last season's. There are still seven home games against likely cream puffs and an exempt tournament in Florida (though with only two games in the Sunshine State in 2016, not 2015's three).

Those differences could make things trickier, even with Iowa State visiting Carver-Hawkeye Arena. For starters, the Hawkeyes hit the road for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to face a Fighting Irish team they lost to in Orlando last November. Iowa also gets a tougher draw for the Gavitt Games, Seton Hall, even though that game's in Iowa City. Plus, instead of drawing one of the Missouri Valley's worst, Drake, in the HyVee Big Four Classic, the Hawks have to play one of that league's contenders, UNI.

Those half-dozen quality games will provide Iowa fans with a way to set expectations for January and beyond. Over at Black Heart Gold Pants, former staff writer RossWB offered his breakdown of the slate from its late June release.

Maryland

Maryland Terrapins

Average Opponent Score 1.232 (avg.); 1.1265 (max.); 1.199 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 104th (avg.); 103rd (max.); 105th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 10th (avg.); 9th (max.); 10th (min.)
Exempt Event* Barclays Center Classic (two at home, two at Brooklyn)
True Home Games
(9)
Semi-Home Games
(1)
True Neutral-Site Games
(2)

Semi-Away Games
(0)

True Away Games
(1)

Pittsburgh
(ACC/B1G)
Oklahoma State
Stony Brook*
Towson*
Saint Peter's
American
Jacksonville State
Howard
St. Mary's College (Md.) (non-D1)

Charlotte
(Baltimore)

Richmond*
Kansas State/
Boston College*

Georgetown
(Gavitt Games)


The Terps will leave the state of Maryland/District of Columbia for just two days during November and December, and that's just a bus/train ride to Brooklyn for a Barclays Center event they should romp through. Really, these 13 games only seem to offer two significant challenges—the short trip to Georgetown and Pitt's visit for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. And if the Hoyas aren't improved, that number drops to one. However, since this is Maryland we're talking about, visits from CAA contender Towson and MAAC hopeful Saint Peter's could be tricky if the Terps decide to not pay attention to them.

This, like so many Big Ten slates this season, isn't going to really help on the seeding front come March. Over at Testudo Times, Alex Kirchner concurs, as typed out his thoughts about a slate he labeled "soft."

Michigan

Michigan Wolverines

Average Opponent Score 1.276 (avg.); 1.279 (max.); 1.272 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 98th (avg.); 98th (max.); 88th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 8th (avg.); 8th (max.); 7th (min.)
Exempt Event* 2K Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project (two at home, two at MSG)

True Home Games
(9)

Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(2)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(2)

Texas
Virginia Tech
(ACC/B1G)
Mount St. Mary's
Furman
IUPUI*
UMES
Kennesaw State
Howard*
Central Arkansas

Marquette*
SMU/Pittsburgh*

UCLA
South Carolina


And speaking of typical-looking Big Ten slates, the Wolverines have ... seven cupcake home games and six high-major contests. Shocking. Michigan, however, scheduled two of those six games on the road, though trips to Columbia and Westwood might be of questionable value this year. Still, at least John Beilein and his staff made an effort.

The Wolverines' trip to Brooklyn will be fascinating, particularly if they end up meeting SMU on night two. The Mustangs swept a home-and-home series between the pair over the last two seasons. Home matchups with Texas and Virginia Tech (who really would need a win in Ann Arbor given its own scheduling deficiencies) will also have an impact on the March picture.

Michigan St

Michigan State Spartans

Average Opponent Score 1.648 (avg.); 1.680 (max.); 1.601 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 17th (avg.); 19th (max.); 17th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 1st (avg.); 1st (max.); 1st (min.)
Exempt Event* Battle 4 Atlantis (one at home, three at Paradise Island, Bahamas)
True Home Games
(7)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(5)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(1)

Oakland
Northeastern
FGCU*
Oral Roberts
Tennessee Tech
Youngstown State
Mississippi Valley State

St. John's*
Baylor/VCU*
Louisville/
Wichita State/
LSU/
Old Dominion*
Kentucky
(MSG)
Arizona
(Honolulu)

Duke
(ACC/B1G)


This is a rather typical-looking Michigan State slate, with neutral-site games doing most of the heavy lifting in the profile department. The Spartans will be tested—and potentially jet-lagged—right out of the gate, thanks to a State Farm Armed Forces Classic matchup with Arizona on Opening Night in Honolulu and a State Farm Champions Classic showdown with Kentucky in New York 96 hours later. Tom Izzo's team will spend Thanksgiving week at the Battle 4 Atlantis, where they could meet Louisville in the final, before heading to Cameron Indoor to take on likely preseason No. 1 Duke. Ouch.

But after that it will be a heaping helping of home cooking, as the Spartans won't leave the Breslin Center until their Big Ten opener against the next team on my list.

Michigan State could be in for a very rough first month of the season, but as usual, this schedule is built with preparing for March as its primary goal.

Minnesota

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Average Opponent Score 1.139
At-Large Pool Ranking 119th (avg.); 126th (max.); 116th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 13th (avg.); 13th (max.); 13th (min.)
Exempt Event* Golden Gopher Showcase (four at home)
True Home Games
(11)
Semi-Home Games
(1)
True Neutral-Site Games
(0)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(1)

Arkansas*
St. John's
(Gavitt Games)
UL Lafayette
UT Arlington*
Southern Illinois*
Northern Illinois
Georgia Southern
Mount St. Mary's*
NJIT
Arkansas State
LIU Brooklyn

Vanderbilt
(Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Florida State
(ACC/B1G)


The Daily Gopher's zipsofakron sent me his thoughts on the Golden Gophers' non-conference slate.

I'm looking at the non-conference schedule completely without numbers and with extreme prejudice. So just keep that in mind. Of course, in the offseason the U made a big deal of announcing a home-and-home with a real live P5 school, so naturally people were falling over themselves hoping it would be a Marquette or Kansas or Syracuse. It ended up being Arkansas, which didn't do much for anyone. Nevertheless, it added a potential RPI-boosting opponent to the schedule, which makes things a little more enticing for the home schedule, if you're comparing it to the usual cupcakes that roll through Williams Arena.

Long story short, we have the usual NEC suspects and a couple directional schools, but overall the quality of the non-conference schedule is flat. The Gophers are participating in the Gavitt Games, meaning they get a home game against St. John's, are headed to Tallahassee to face Florida State as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and will play Vanderbilt at a neutral site in Sioux Falls. So, that's a handful of BCS opponents, but nothing that's going to get anyone excited about anything over here. However, I do think it'll be a good barometer for a team trying to bounce back from a god-awful season. If they can beat the likes of Arkansas and Vanderbilt then we might actually have something to look forward to this year.

Considering that Minnesota has not gotten close to the NCAAs after its 2014 NIT crown, it's put-up-or-shut-up time for Richard Pitino. With the Gophers' young roster and a schedule that features some tricky matchups, trouble could be ahead for them. In particular, Minnesota's second game, a home contest against a UT Arlington squad that won at Ohio State last November, will be one to keep an eye on in the season's first week.

Nebraska

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Average Opponent Score 1.548 (avg.); 1.647 (max.); 1.439 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 35th (avg.); 27th (max.); 45th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 2nd (avg.); 2nd (max.); 4th (min.)
Exempt Event* Directv Wooden Legacy (two at Fullerton, Calif., one at Anaheim, Calif.)
True Home Games
(7)

Semi-Home Games
(0)

True Neutral-Site Games
(1-3)
Semi-Away Games
(0-2)
True Away Games
(2)

Creighton
Louisiana Tech
Gardner-Webb
Southern
South Dakota
Sacramento State
University of Mary (non-D1)

Dayton*
Portland/UCLA*
Texas A&M/
New Mexico/
Virginia Tech/
Cal State Northridge*

Portland/UCLA*
Texas A&M/
New Mexico/
Virginia Tech/
Cal State Northridge*

Kansas
Clemson
(ACC/B1G)


Since rallying for an NCAA bid over the final six weeks of the 2013-14 season, Tim Miles' squad has struggled to a 29-36 record. Even with seven home contests on this season's slate, the Cornhuskers might continue to have difficulty on the court, as the five games away from Lincoln are all potentially brutal. Not only are road trips to Lawrence and Clemson likely losses, but drawing A 10 power Dayton in the first round of the Wooden Legacy looks like a sure ticket to the consolation round in a tournament featuring a weak bottom half.

If Nebraska can surprise at all during November and December, the Big Ten season could be intriguing. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

Northwestern

Northwestern Wildcats

Average Opponent Score 1.168 (avg.); 1.177 (max.); 1.159 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 114th (avg.); 118th (max.); 110th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 12th (avg.); 12th (max.); 12th (min.)
Exempt Event* Legends Classic (two at home, two at Brooklyn)
True Home Games
(9)
Semi-Home Games
(1)
True Neutral-Site Games
(2)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(1)

Wake Forest
(ACC/B1G)
DePaul
Eastern Washington*
Bryant*
IUPUI
Houston Baptist
New Orleans
Chicago State
Mississippi Valley State

Dayton
(Chicago)

Texas*
Notre Dame/
Colorado*

Butler
(Gavitt Games)


Based on this schedule, the Wildcats are unlikely to earn their first-ever NCAA bid. While there are four high-major games with potential, and a sweep of them would change the prognosis for Chris Collins' squad, the home schedule is pretty much awful. While the overall slate is an improvement from last year's (a statement Inside NU's Zach Pereles would agree with), welcoming a bad Wake team, a typically awful DePaul squad, and several of D1's lesser lights leaves NU with a lot to do away from Welsh-Ryan Arena both in the early weeks of the season and over the entire Big Ten slate.

Ohio St

Ohio State Buckeyes

Average Opponent Score 1.240
At-Large Pool Ranking 100th (avg.); 106th (max.); 93rd (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 9th (avg.); 10th (max.); 8th (min.)
Exempt Event* Global Sports Invitational (four at home)
True Home Games
(10)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(1)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(2)

Connecticut
Providence
(Gavitt Games)
N.C. Central*
UNC Asheville
Marshall*
Western Carolina*
Youngstown State
FAU
Jackson State*
Fairleigh Dickinson

UCLA
(Las Vegas)

Virginia
(ACC/B1G)
Navy


Last season, the Buckeyes went 11-7 during Big Ten play and still didn't get all that close to an NCAA bid. That's due to a non-conference schedule that featured a good number of cupcakes and a four-game losing streak in the early stages of the season. Similar difficulties could present themselves this season, as other than games against UConn and Virginia, and maybe Providence and UCLA, there's not a lot of quality here. If Thad Matta's team has similar early season struggles this time around, another NIT trip, at best, is on the cards.

Penn St

Penn State Nittany Lions

Average Opponent Score 1.540 (avg.); 1.558 (max.); 1.521 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 37th (avg.); 45th (max.); 30th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 3rd (avg.); 3rd (max.); 2nd (min.)
Exempt Event* Hall of Fame Tip-Off (two at home, two at Uncasville, Conn.)
True Home Games
(8)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(3)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(2)

Georgia Tech
(ACC/B1G)
Albany*
Wright State
Duquesne
George Mason
Grand Canyon*
Colgate
Morgan State

Duke*
Cincinnati/
Rhode Island*
Pittsburgh
(Newark, N.J.)

George Washington
St. John's


In writing about Penn State's non-conference schedule release, Black Shoe Diaries' Tim Aydin's teaser read "Trust us, you'll love it." BSD hoops writer Aaron Yorke sent me similar thoughts for this post.

Head coach Pat Chambers has always been more about building his team's confidence than attracting a national television audience when it comes to building the Penn State non-conference schedule. Usually the Lions' toughest competition comes in the form of a holiday tournament. The same can be said this year with a matchup against Duke in the Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament in Connecticut. However, there's also a neutral-site game against Pitt and road trips to St. John's and George Washington to look forward to. Overall, the non-conference schedule should prove to be more challenging that usual for this young Penn State team.

Chambers has been bringing quality recruiting classes over the last two cycles, and this schedule, among the Big Ten's better ones, will give them plenty of opportunities to get themselves some national attention right off the bat. Drawing perennial America East contender Albany (thanks to their enforced inability to travel to Duke due to HB2) and a rising Grand Canyon squad for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off's two home games gives the Nittany Lions a pair of decent tests before two high-quality games at the Mohegan Sun. This schedule sets up very well for Penn State, but Chambers' improved roster will have to do its part to return to the NCAAs for the first time since 2011.

Purdue

Purdue Boilermakers

Average Opponent Score 1.463 (avg.); 1.483 (max.); 1.442 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 52nd (avg.); 60th (max.); 43rd (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 4th (avg.); 4th (max.); 3rd (min.)
Exempt Event* Cancun Challenge (two at home, two at Cancun, Mexico)
True Home Games
(8)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(4)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(1)

Villanova
(Gavitt Games)
Georgia State*
Morehead State
Cleveland State
Norfolk State
NJIT*
Western Illinois
McNeese State

Utah State*
Texas Tech/
Auburn*
Notre Dame
(Indianapolis)
Arizona State
(MSG)

Louisville
(ACC/B1G)


Friend of the blog Travis Miller from Hammer And Rails was kind enough to pass along his thoughts on this year's Purdue non-conference slate.

Purdue has a really challenging non-conference schedule this year and it should pay off for an experienced and talented club. The first huge game of the entire college basketball season is November 14th when it hosts Villanova. Purdue is playing in Cancun too, where in the final it will play either Texas Tech (with Chris Beard, who ousted Purdue from the NCAAs with Little Rock) or Auburn and former Purdue transfer Ronnie Johnson who left WL on poor terms. Purdue goes to Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten challenge and will play Arizona State at MSG in the Jimmy V. Classic. Purdue also gets Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic this year. There are some intriguing smaller conference games against Cleveland State, Georgia State, and NJIT too.

Here's Travis's quick review of the schedule. You can undoubtedly expect more on it in the coming weeks.

In my opinion, Purdue's non-conference slate held them back a bit last season when it came to seeding (directly leading to one of the more intriguing matchup possibilities on this year's slate, the potential game with Chris Beard's new Texas Tech charges). Getting Villanova at home and Louisville on the road are two major boosts (that probably wouldn't be possible without the conference challenge, but I digress) and the visit from Georgia State is a sneaky good one (and a potential early trap). This slate should definitely help the Boilermakers out in March, provided they take care of business in Big Ten play.

If anything, this schedule will help take the edge off after football season.

Rutgers

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Average Opponent Score 1.185
At-Large Pool Ranking 109th (avg.); 116th (max.); 108th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 11th (avg.); 11th (max.); 11th (min.)
Exempt Event* Scarlet Knight Showcase (four at home)
True Home Games
(8)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(1)
Semi-Away Games
(0)
True Away Games
(4)

Drexel*
North Texas*
Niagara*
Hartford*
Morgan State
Fairleigh Dickinson
Central Connecticut State
Molloy (non-D1)

Fordham
(MSG)

Miami
(ACC/B1G)
Seton Hall
Stony Brook
DePaul
(Gavitt Games)


Steve Pikiell, formerly of Stony Brook, takes over a Scarlet Knight squad that got incrementally worse in each of Eddie Jordan's three seasons (going from 12 to 10 and finally bottoming out with seven wins, while Pikiell's last Seawolves squad won 25 alone). So, you can understand why this schedule is not really built with March in mind. To me, the two most intriguing contests are the potentially unfair fight against Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge (really, conference offices?) and Rutgers' trip to Pikiell's previous employer.

Aaron Breitman has a more comprehensive look at the Scarlet Knight's November and December plans at On The Banks.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Badgers

Average Opponent Score 1.388 (avg.); 1.458 (max.); 1.236 (min.)
At-Large Pool Ranking 73rd (avg.); 64th (max.); 94th (min.)
Big Ten Ranking 5th (avg.); 5th (max.); 9th (min.)
Exempt Event* Maui Jim Maui Invitational (one at home, three at Lahaina, Hawai'i)
True Home Games
(8)
Semi-Home Games
(0)
True Neutral-Site Games
(2-3)
Semi-Away Games
(0-1)
True Away Games
(2)

Oklahoma
Syracuse
(ACC/B1G)
Green Bay
Idaho State
Prairie View A&M
Chicago State
Central Arkansas*
Florida A&M

Tennessee*
Oregon/
Georgetown*
North Carolina/
Connecticut/
Oklahoma State/
Chaminade*

North Carolina/
Connecticut/
Oklahoma State/
Chaminade*

Creighton
(Gavitt Games)
Marquette


The bottom five games drag down the numbers for a rather solid Badger schedule, one highlighted by a trip to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. If Greg Gard's squad gets by Tennessee in the first round, games against likely NCAA squads would follow on Tuesday and Wednesday in Lahaina. Note that the two Big East away games might have more importance to those squads (because of the relative lack of heft on their respective schedules). Getting a rebuilding, but decent Oklahoma squad and a dangerous, underrated Syracuse squad at the Kohl Center are major pluses.

Tomorrow, I'll take a look at the Mountain West, even if that conference only earned a single bid in 2016.

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