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Analyzing The Atlantic 10’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

While Rhode Island heads into the new season as the 14-team league’s favorite, the Rams don’t lead the way in the scheduling department.

NCAA Basketball: Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament - Davidson vs Rhode Island
Bob McKillop’s Wildcats head into the 2017-18 with the Atlantic 10’s strongest non-conference schedule, despite just scheduling 11 games.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2017-18 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Ranking The Teams

With 11 of its 14 members in the upper half of the four-year rankings, the Atlantic 10 is far and away the strongest mid-major league from top to bottom. However, the top two teams, Dayton and VCU, feature head coaches entering their first season in charge. Granted, new Flyer coach Anthony Grant tasted success in Richmond before heading to Alabama, while Mike Rhoades brought a moribund Rice program to respectability before taking over the Rams.

Keep an eye on 14th-ranked Saint Louis, who could make a giant leap up this season’s standings in Travis Ford’s second season in charge. It’s a similar story for 11th-place La Salle.

A 10 Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
VCU 8.07889 35
Dayton 7.194695 40
Rhode Island 5.936026 56
Davidson 4.412182 78
Richmond 4.154857 80
George Washington 3.983181 83
St. Bonaventure 3.814123 84
Saint Joseph's 2.5652956 107
Massachusetts 1.19699 130
George Mason 0.225009 157
La Salle -0.1484415 159
Fordham -1.02591505 186
Duquesne -1.31178585 195
Saint Louis -2.954563 239
Average 2.5800388 116.3571429
Conference Rank 8th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

Davidson has the Atlantic 10’s lone top 25 schedule, at least when comparing average strengths. However, a run to the final of the Diamond Head Classic could add games against Miami and USC to the Wildcats’ schedule, boosting their maximum score into the top 20. On the other hand, a poor showing in Honolulu would drop Davidson’s minimum score outside of the top 30—thanks to games against Hawai’i and Akron that don’t quite pack the same punch.

Rhode Island’s participation in the NIT Season Tip-Off gives it an average schedule that ranks in the top 50 nationally, thanks to a second game against either Virginia or Vanderbilt. La Salle will participate in a pair of tournaments this season, so there’s an extra level of variance in the Explorers’ four scores.

The majority Atlantic 10 schedules generally rank in the top half nationally in all four categories. However, Duquesne’s home-heavy schedule of Division I strugglers is the third-worst in the entire country.

*Denotes team will participate in a bracketed tournament. Reminder: Known Score = known matchups only; Average Score = known games+average of potential bracketed matchups; Maximum Score = known games+games against best potential bracketed matchups; Minimum Score = known games+games against worst potential bracketed matchups

Atlantic 10 Schedule Strengths And National Ranks

Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Davidson* 5.134331289 27 5.414342713 23 6.0629806 17 4.738609486 33
La Salle* 4.217829143 50 3.725751407 75 4.079427064 78 3.37207575 79
Rhode Island* 3.279943963 86 4.481037966 49 4.902831557 50 4.059244375 50
George Washington* 2.635776779 121 3.059779325 107 3.262856681 113 2.856701969 99
Dayton* 2.26423285 140 2.687712307 124 3.267670125 112 2.024650955 149
VCU* 2.112693936 146 3.475706864 91 4.243625696 73 2.547896408 113
Saint Joseph's* 2.069823913 154 2.751582361 120 3.70856051 97 1.763159935 163
St. Bonaventure* 2.052389646 155 2.334367269 143 2.465011738 149 2.2037228 134
Richmond* 1.817745865 170 2.668726572 126 3.716951346 95 1.983315565 151
Massachusetts 1.538638715 191 1.538638715 198 1.538638715 216 1.538638715 184
Saint Louis* 1.069856908 213 1.551345045 192 1.807771185 196 1.294918905 196
George Mason* 0.9197144938 220 1.079105948 226 1.096204783 235 1.062007114 213
Fordham -0.2306337854 288 -0.2306337854 295 -0.2306337854 302 -0.2306337854 285
Duquesne -4.71953504 349 -4.71953504 349 -4.71953504 349 -4.71953504 349
Average 1.725914905 165 2.129851976 151.2857143 2.514454369 148.7142857 1.749626654 157
Conference Rank 16 of 32 12 of 32 8 of 32 15 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Even though Duquesne is the second lowest-ranked A 10 team, it still managed to have the largest scheduling gap in the conference. Keith Dambrot’s first Dukes’ schedule is a full 154 places worse than the ideal schedule for the 195th-ranked team nationally. At least Saint Louis, the worst league team over the past four seasons, anticipated some improvement by creating a slate 47 spots better than its four-year ranking.

Conference favorite Rhode Island did the best job in building its schedule, slightly over-scheduling by seven places. On the flip side, Saint Joe’s, another squad expected to be improved this season, could be considered a bit of a disappointment by this measure, as the Hawks’ slate is 13 spots worse than their ranking of 107th. Davidson and VCU, meanwhile, are two sides of the same coin. The Wildcats over-scheduled by 55 places, thanks in part to the number of road games on their slate and the trip to O’ahu for a strong Diamond Head Classic. As for the Rams, they under-scheduled by nearly the exact same number due to a home-heavy slate and a trip to a Maui Invitational that features a slightly weaker field than usual.

Atlantic 10 Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Team Score Rank Avg. Schedule Strength Rank Scheduling Gap
21 Rhode Island 56 49 7
38 Saint Joseph's 107 120 -13
67 George Washington 83 107 -24
113 Richmond 80 126 -46
120 Saint Louis 239 192 47
131 Davidson 78 23 55
133 VCU 35 91 -56
141 St. Bonaventure 84 143 -59
156 Massachusetts 130 198 -68
158 George Mason 157 226 -69
191 Dayton 40 124 -84
192 La Salle 159 75 84
217 Fordham 186 295 -109
278 Duquesne 195 349 -154
139.7142857 Average (8/32 conf.) 116.3571429 151.2857143 -34.92857143

A 10 Home, Power Conference, & Non-D1 Games

True Home Games Scheduled Home Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Road Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Home Games Scheduled Home Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Road Games Scheduled Against Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
97 12 (+1 semi-home game) 17 (+2 semi-road games) 1 (+1 possible in Maui Invitational)

The Atlantic 10 dominates mid-majordom both in terms of home games, with 10 more total than second-place Conference USA (another 14-team league), and home games against power conference foes, as the league’s total of 12 is more than double that of either C-USA or the Mountain West. While 17 power conference road games seems like a lot, the A 10 sits in a tie for 20th, with the MAAC, out of 25 mid-major leagues in this department. As for the conference’s total of one game against non-D1 opposition, only the MAAC has fewer scheduled.

That final stat makes the A 10’s home game total all the more impressive. Of C-USA’s 87 home contests, 26 feature a team from outside of Division I.

A 10 Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
ACC 13 5
Big East 11 1
Ivy 11 2
CAA 10 0
MEAC 10 0
MAAC 9 1
America East 8 0
Patriot 7 1
Big Ten 6 2
MAC 6 3
SEC 6 4
SoCon 6 0
Sun Belt 6 1
American Athletic 5 3
C-USA 5 2
NEC 5 0
Big South 4 0
OVC 4 0
Atlantic Sun 3 0
SWAC 3 0
WCC 3 1
Big 12 2 3
Horizon 2 0
MVC 2 2
MW 2 4
Pac-12 2 4
WAC 2 0
Big West 1 2
Non-D1 1 1
Southland 1 0
Big Sky 0 1
Summit 0 1

If things break a certain way in bracketed tournaments, the Atlantic 10 schedules will feature matchups with each of the other 31 Division I leagues. But even if they don’t, landing games against 29 is nothing to sneeze at. Naturally, conferences with a heavy presence in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic lead the way, with the 24 total games scheduled against the region’s two power conferences—the ACC and Big East—standing out as particularly impressive.

A 10 Non-Conference Games By Strength And Location

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
1-25 2 5 2 9 0.6428571429 5
26-50 4 5 4 13 0.9285714286 9
51-75 3 2 6 11 0.7857142857 4
76-100 9 2 4 15 1.071428571 6
101-150 16 9 5 30 2.142857143 13
151-200 9 5 3 17 1.214285714 2
201-250 11 3 1 15 1.071428571 2
251-300 18 2 0 20 1.428571429 2
301-351 24 1 0 25 1.785714286 0
Non-D1 1 0 0 1 0.07142857143 1
Total 97 34 25 156
Average 6.928571429 2.428571429 1.785714286 11.14285714
Percentage 0.6217948718 0.2179487179 0.1602564103

The Atlantic 10 ranks near the Power 7 conferences in terms of home and road games. However, with many league members playing (ostensibly) neutral-site games regularly and La Salle’s participation in a pair of tournaments this year, the conference jumps into the top five for this category.

While it’s disappointing that A 10 teams scheduled 45 games against the bottom 101 teams in Division I (with all but three at home), at least there are 78 known games against the top 150 to outweigh them—and the potential of a few more in bracketed events.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Average Schedule Strength National Ranking. Numbers in parentheses are opponent’s Team Score Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net.

23. Davidson Wildcats

*Exempt Event: Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
True Home Games (3) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
Charleston Southern (292) None North Carolina (6) None Nevada (112)
UNCW (91) (Charlotte) Appalachian State (286)
VMI (318) New Mexico State (86)* Charlotte (203)
Miami (Fla.) (29) Virginia (2)
(or Hawai'i)* Hawai'i (149)
USC (65) or (or Miami (Fla.))*
Princeton (76) or
Middle Tennessee (81) or
Akron (93)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Appalachian State, Charlotte) and 1 loss (@North Carolina)

As usual, Bob McKillop’s Wildcats will play just 11 non-conference games despite their participation in an exempt tournament that permits them two more. However, with four true road games, highlighted by trips to Virginia and Mountain West favorite Nevada, a showdown with defending National Champion North Carolina in Charlotte, and a Christmas week journey to Hawai’i for a Diamond Head Classic that features ACC power Miami and Final Four threat USC, those extra games might not be necessary.

49. Rhode Island Rams

*Exempt Event: NIT Season Tip-Off (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
UNC Asheville (143)* None Virginia (2) or Seton Hall (48)* Nevada (112)
Holy Cross (247) Vanderbilt (37)* Alabama (59)
Brown (266)
Providence (43)
College of Charleston (133)
Iona (98)
FGCU (146)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Brown, Holy Cross) and 1 loss (@Providence)

The Rams are another team in an exempt event but playing fewer than 29 games. Part of the problem for Dan Hurley’s team was the awkward scheduling of the NIT Season Tip-Off, which couldn’t manage to provide all eight participants withfour games (see also Monmouth) for whatever reason. But like Davidson, it shouldn’t really matter for Rhode Island, as three conference favorites—College of Charleston, Iona, and FGCU—head to the Ryan Center, while the Rams also visit Nevada and Alabama, an SEC team poised to return to the NCAAs. Throw in the annual in-state contest against Big East contender Providence and a pair of games against 2017 NCAA squads in Brooklyn, and this is a slate more than worthy of a league favorite.

75. La Salle Explorers

*Exempt Event: Hall Of Fame Tip-Off (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Saint Peter's (164)* Miami (Fla.) (29) Northwestern (61)* None Penn (230)
South Alabama (263)* (Reading, Pa.) Texas Tech (58) or Villanova (1)
Temple (94) Boston College (160)* Bucknell (128)
Mercer (151) Towson (152)
Drexel (242) (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Manhattan (233) or
Holy Cross (247)
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (@Drexel, Bucknell, Mercer) and 3 losses (@Temple, Villanova (N), Penn)

The Explorers’ slate is fittingly packed with challenges of the local (two of their three non-league Big 5 games are away from Tom Gola and trips to play Patriot League favorite Bucknell in the Bison’s gym and Miami in Reading), national (the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, where Northwestern awaits in the semifinals), and international (La Salle heads to Belfast, Northern Ireland to take part in the first Division I games played in Europe) varieties. Dr. John Giannini’s will hope his team can use this slate to navigate its way to A 10 contention and a return to the postseason.

91. VCU Rams

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (1)
Grambling State (350) None Marquette (57)* Chaminade (Non-D1) Seton Hall (48)
North Florida (209)* Wichita State (10) or (or Notre Dame,
Virginia (2) California (49)* Michigan, LSU)*
Appalachian State (286) Notre Dame (21)
Old Dominion (110) Michigan (27) or
Texas (39) LSU (90)
Bucknell (128) (or Chaminade)*
Winthrop (144)
VMI (318)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (LSU (N), @Old Dominion) and 0 losses

In most seasons, the trip to Maui, where the Rams will have to get past Marquette and likely Wichita State to reach the final, would be the automatic highlight of this slate. But this is no ordinary season—as two of the biggest brands in Power 7 land head to Richmond. First, in-state power Virginia makes a rare visit to VCU’s campus, aiming to repeat their 2014 home win over the Rams, while new head coach Mike Rhoades will hope the result resembles the one from the season before. Then, as non-conference play heads toward its conclusion, former Ram coach Shaka Smart brings his Texas Longhorns, who should be improved over last year’s version, to the Siegel Center. You’ll be hard pressed to find two more anticipated evenings on the entire national schedule.

And if those events weren’t enough, VCU is yet another A 10 team that will play Bucknell, while a road Never Forget Tribute game against Seton Hall is another strong December contest. This is a slate that should definitely put the Rams in the at-large hunt if they can pick up some wins along the way.

107. George Washington Colonials

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Howard (333) Temple (94) Xavier (25)* None Florida State (36)
Hampton (280)* (Capital One Arena) Kansas State (41) or Penn State (95)
Rider (212)* Arizona State (85)*
Morgan State (322)
Princeton (76)
Miami (Fla.) (29)
New Hampshire (220)
Harvard (106)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (@Temple, @Harvard, Howard) and 3 losses (Penn State, Florida State (N), @Miami)

Maurice Joseph’s first Colonial squad finished strong, winning six in a row before Richmond eliminated them from the A 10 Tournament before advancing a round in the CBI. GW will aim to build on that finish—and improve upon 2016’s 8-5 non-conference mark—against a schedule that looks to be even more difficult than the ranking indicates. While the Colonials will have a home advantage in their attempts to avenge last season’s loss at Miami and repeat victories over Temple and Harvard, they may struggle to reverse losses to Penn State and Florida State and make headway in a Las Vegas Invitational field where GW will meet former conference rival Xavier in the semifinals.

120. Saint Joseph’s Hawks

*Exempt Event: Wooden Legacy

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4-5)
Princeton (76) None Washington State (183)* None UIC (302)
Bucknell (128) Saint Mary's (22) or Toledo (114)
Villanova (1) Harvard (106)* Cal State Fullerton (272)
Maine (343) San Diego State (50) or (or San Diego State,
Georgia (54) or Georgia, Sacramento
Sacramento State (275) State)*
(or Cal State Fullerton)* Temple (94)
St. John's (102) Penn (230)
(Uncasville, Conn.)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Toledo, @Princeton, Penn) and 2 losses (Temple, @Villanova)

The Hawks followed up 2016’s NCAA bid with an 11-win campaign, which featured a nine-game losing streak late in the year. But Phil Martelli’s charges should fly higher this season. For starters, Saint Joe’s will have chances to make statements thanks to a four-game home slate that sees Villanova, Princeton, and Bucknell (who seems to be shooting for league membership this fall) all visit Hagan Arena. Two wins are possible in the Wooden Legacy, as long as the Hawks get past Washington State in the quarterfinals. Plus, all four road games are winnable, as is a Basketball Hall of Fame showdown with St. John’s Red Storm. And that game might just be vital for both come March.

124. Dayton Flyers

*Exempt Event: Gildan Charleston Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
Ball State (197) None Hofstra (132)* Clemson (47)* Mississippi State (101)
Akron (93) Ohio (127)* (or Ohio) Saint Mary's (22)
Auburn (122)* (or Clemson)
Tennessee Tech (245) Temple (94)* or
Penn (230) Old Dominion (110)* or
Georgia State (117) Auburn (122)* or
Wagner (244) Indiana St. (174)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 1 loss (Saint Mary’s)

With Archie Miller’s departure for Indiana, Anthony Grant returns to his alma mater. But he’s not joining a conference he’s necessarily familiar with—remember that VCU resided in the CAA during his tenure in Richmond. That shouldn’t matter though, as Grant should still be able to find success with the Flyers, even if there may be some bumps in the road during season one. The Charleston Classic will offer an early indication as to whether Dayton can match its 24 wins of a season ago. But a visit from Auburn and a pair of intriguing road trips to Mississippi State and Saint Mary’s could be even more instructive.

126. Richmond Spiders

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Delaware (269) None UAB (147)* None Wake Forest (66)
Jacksonville State (258)* Cincinnati (20) or Old Dominion (110)
Georgetown (52) Buffalo (104)* Boston College (160)
Vermont (89) Iowa (33) or
James Madison (173) South Dakota State (119) or
Bucknell (128) Louisiana (123) or
Wyoming (131)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@James Madison) and 3 losses (Old Dominion, @Bucknell, Wake Forest)

Chris Mooney’s Spiders just missed a trip to the NIT semifinals, having lost to eventual winner TCU in the quarterfinals, and this schedule gives them a chance to do even better this time around. While drawing Georgetown to the web that is the Robins Center might not be the best move this season, Vermont and (again) Bucknell offer Richmond a pair of chances to trap quality victims. Wake Forest looks to be the most dangerous road foe, while American contender Cincinnati and Big Ten threat Iowa are the top potential opponents in the inaugural Cayman Islands event.

143. St. Bonaventure Bonnies

*Exempt Event: Emerald Coast Classic

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
Niagara (297) Vermont (89) Maryland (30)* None Siena (169)
Maryland Eastern Shore (315) (Rochester, N.Y.) TCU (69) or Buffalo (104)
Jackson State (310) New Mexico (105)* Canisius (185)
Yale (96) Syracuse (38)
Northeastern (138)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Siena, Buffalo, Niagara (N)) and 1 loss (Canisius)

Despite winning 20 games a season ago, the Bonnies didn’t participate in a postseason tournament. While they’ll likely need to sweep through this non-league slate, or run riot through A 10 play, to earn NCAA consideration, these 12 games should give SBU a better chance at NIT selection. Drawing Maryland in the Emerald Coast semifinal will make it difficult to grab a pair of quality wins in Northwest Florida, while Mark Schmidt’s team won’t be favored in their two biggest road games—at Syracuse and Buffalo. While Vermont faces SBU in Rochester and Yale visits Olean, grabbing wins in those two games likely won’t do much for St. Bonaventure’s March Madness dreams.

192. Saint Louis Billikens

*Exempt Event: Legends Classic

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
Seattle (281)* None Virginia Tech (75)* Oregon State (135) Butler (26)
Rockhurst (Non-D1) Providence (43) or (Portland)
Detroit-Mercy (237)* Washington (103)*
Western Michigan (155)
Southern Illinois (158)
Houston (72)
Murray State (153)
Campbell (311)
Southeast Missouri (285)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 1 loss (@Southern Illinois)

Despite last season’s 11-21 record, expectations are high in St. Louis, as Travis Ford’s second roster should be far more capable than his first. A friendly home schedule (especially with Houston expected to take a step back), winnable exempt event, and game in Portland against an Oregon State team that should be similarly improved should give the Billikens plenty of wins heading into Atlantic 10 play. Even the only likely loss on the slate, a trip to Butler, isn’t a game to write-off.

198. UMass Minutemen

*Exempt Event: Barclays Center Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
UMass Lowell (316) None Minnesota (64)* None Harvard (106)
Niagara (297)* BYU (51)* Quinnipiac (264)
Western Carolina (268)* South Carolina (45)
Holy Cross (247)
Providence (43)
Georgia (54)
Georgia State (117)
Maine (343)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (UMass Lowell, Holy Cross (N), Harvard, @Georgia State) and 1 loss (@Providence)

The administration in Amherst fired Derek Kellogg following a 15-18 season, so it’s up to former Chattanooga coach Matt McCall bring the Minutemen back to the NCAAs for the first time since a 2014 cameo. This slate balances five likely home wins with some real tests—Providence and the rare Georgia-Georgia State combo in Amherst, trips to Harvard Crimson and 2017 Final Four participant South Carolina, and preset Barclays Center matchups with possible NCAA squads Minnesota and BYU.

226. George Mason Patriots

*Exempt Event: Cancun Challenge (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Lafayette (314) None Louisiana Tech (97)* None Louisville (8)
Binghamton (331)* Fresno State (116) or James Madison (173)
Cal State Northridge (265)* Evansville (120)* Auburn (122)
William & Mary (113)
North Carolina Central (182)
Georgia Southern (189)
Penn State (95)
Morgan State (322)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (James Madison, @Penn State) and 0 losses

The Patriots saw a nine-win improvement from Dave Paulsen’s second to third seasons in charge, so hopes of a March return are rising in Fairfax. However, don’t expect this slate to boost George Mason toward its first NCAA bid since 2011. Given Penn State’s status in the Big Ten, Sun Belt contender Georgia Southern might be the strongest NCAA contender to visit GMU this season, while road contests at Louisville and Auburn (even factoring any FBI-related turmoil) won’t be easy. While the Patriots could pick up a pair of decent wins at the Cancun Challenge, none of that event’s other mid-major participants look like at-large threats.

295. Fordham Rams

*Exempt Event: Jamaica Classic Montego Bay (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Miami (Ohio) (253)* None Florida State (36)* None Rutgers (199)
LIU Brooklyn (288)* Tulane (235)* West Virginia (11)
Manhattan (233)
ETSU (121)
Maine (343)
Harvard (106)
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317)
Florida A&M (351)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 3 losses (@Harvard, @Manhattan, Rutgers (N))

The Rams took a step back in Jeff Neubauer’s second season, dropping to 13 wins after a 17-victory campaign in 2015-16. It didn’t help that Fordham went just 6-7 against a non-conference slate that was even weaker than this one. The 2016 version didn’t feature a trip to West Virginia or an off-campus MTE with Power 7 opposition.

349. Duquesne Dukes

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0)
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317) None Pittsburgh (53) None None
VMI (318) (PPG Paints Arena)
Robert Morris (262) San Francisco (129)*
Cornell (277) Southern Illinois (158)*
Maryland Eastern Shore (315)
Stetson (325)
Delaware St. (338)
Mississippi Valley State (347)
North Carolina A&T (348)*
Lamar (299)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Pittsburgh (N)) and 1 loss (Robert Morris (N))

A seven-win decline between 2016 and 2017 saw Jim Ferry relieved of his duties in Pittsburgh, with Akron coach Keith Dambrot surprisingly moving east to fill the role. Expect the Dukes to fatten up on a schedule that features home games against a whopping seven teams from the bottom 50 of the four-year ranking—in fact, none of the 10 opponents headed to the Palumbo Center ranks higher than 262nd! As for the three games away from campus, Duquesne will attempt to beat Pittsburgh or the second straight season, while a pair of losses likely await at the Las Vegas Classic over Christmas week.

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