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Analyzing The SEC’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

Over the past few seasons, the SEC has aimed to improve its overall non-conference scheduling. Those efforts really paid off this season.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Kentucky vs Arkansas
Thanks to some aggressive non-conference scheduling, the SEC could send a record number of teams to the party that is March Madness.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

While the entirety of the SEC ranks in the top 150 of the four-year table, the presence of a mere two teams in the top 25—Kentucky and Florida—means its overall strength doesn’t quite match the more top-heavy conferences, particularly the ACC and Big 12. And with the majority of the 14 teams residing between 37th and 90th—a good place to find bubble-like profiles in March—the conference’s inability to compete with the other power leagues in the bid department is evident.

SEC Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Kentucky 13.98525 3
Florida 10.62219 17
Vanderbilt 7.901499 37
Arkansas 7.11416 42
Texas A&M 7.051257 44
South Carolina 6.8638515 45
Georgia 6.2121195 54
Alabama 5.5542115 59
Tennessee 5.3594915 62
Mississippi 5.245298 63
LSU 3.3343913 90
Mississippi State 2.7369348 101
Auburn 1.757254 122
Missouri 0.4769854 150
Average 6.015349536 63.5
Conference Rank 5th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

The SEC has taken past criticism of its November/December scheduling habits to heart. Heading into 2017-18, 13 of the 14 non-league slates rank in the top half nationally in the majority of categories, with Mississippi State being the lone exception. Five teams rank in the top 35 in Average Schedule, with eight in the top 100 in that metric. No power conference, and few period, can match that. In fact, only the average SWAC schedule is deemed more difficult than the average SEC slate in all four categories.

*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

SEC Schedule Strengths And National Ranks

Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Team Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Tennessee* 6.257092983 9 5.25573602 23 7.767125017 4 4.802901569 32
Kentucky 5.786743556 13 5.786743556 14 5.786743556 26 5.786743556 9
Texas A&M* 5.354643587 24 5.205889604 24 5.534737135 29 5.174550039 17
Alabama 5.133388156 27 5.133388156 28 5.133388156 43 5.133388156 20
Florida* 4.958462074 34 3.539807446 73 5.9920163 18 3.637110185 68
Arkansas* 4.438526199 54 3.421773019 81 5.812317363 21 2.782431877 103
Vanderbilt* 3.395882159 94 2.820553208 112 3.503250664 104 3.288513654 82
Missouri* 3.308763454 99 3.2039612 90 4.378544996 69 2.465669708 118
Ole Miss* 3.214613616 103 3.529060142 74 3.309304929 110 3.119922304 88
LSU* 3.057532171 108 1.74872578 174 4.117896546 77 2.188334108 136
South Carolina* 2.869859362 116 2.823578159 111 3.89177575 84 2.030880764 148
Georgia* 2.669835458 125 2.358840212 135 3.949407427 82 1.625777552 175
Auburn* 2.153574189 151 1.555054099 188 2.590408314 141 1.741661718 166
Mississippi State -0.0179242077 285 -0.0179242077 277 -0.0179242077 295 -0.0179242077 277
Average 3.755785197 88.71428571 3.311799028 100.2857143 4.410642282 78.78571429 3.125711499 102.7857143
Conference Rank 2nd of 32 2nd of 32 2nd of 32 2nd of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

Miss. State is again the only team on this list that truly did a horrible job in building a non-league slate, especially for a team that has at-large hopes. While Tennessee might have overdone things a bit in what could be another rebuilding season, the Bulldogs’ gap is nearly three times as massive as the Vols.’ Under-scheduling as a power conference team is typically a bad move—doing so by that significant of a margin could be the difference between the NCAAs and NIT.

Even though three fellow contenders have smaller absolute scheduling gaps, Texas A&M looks to be the team that did the best job given its preseason expectations, as the Aggies over-scheduled by 20 spots. Meanwhile, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Georgia all built their non-league slates with the expectation of taking at least a small step backwards.

SEC 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
29 Kentucky 3 13 -10
32 Arkansas 42 54 -12
46 Florida 17 34 -17
49 LSU 90 108 -18
57 Texas A&M 44 24 20
77 Auburn 122 151 -29
82 Alabama 59 27 32
101 Ole Miss 63 103 -40
126 Missouri 150 99 51
129 Tennessee 62 9 53
135 Vanderbilt 37 94 -57
163 South Carolina 45 116 -71
164 Georgia 54 125 -71
298 Mississippi State 101 285 -184
106.2857143 Average (6/32 conf.) 63.5 88.71428571 -25.21428571

SEC Road & Non-D1 Games

True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
25 (5 SEC/Big 12 Challenge) 8 (+1 semi-road game, +1 possible true road game in MTEs, +3 possible semi-road games in MTEs) 3 (+1 possible Maui Invitational)

Among the Power 7, the SEC sits just behind the ACC in terms of true road games scheduled (25 vs. 29) and the Big Ten when comparing non-D1 games (3 vs. 4). South Carolina and Georgia are responsible for half of the eight SEC road games scheduled for non-Power 7 gyms.

SEC Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Big 12 17 4
ACC 11 6
American Athletic 11 6
Big South 9 0
Southland 9 0
Pac-12 8 6
Atlantic Sun 7 0
C-USA 7 4
OVC 7 0
SoCon 7 0
A 10 6 4
Sun Belt 6 1
Big Ten 5 4
MVC 5 1
SWAC 5 0
Horizon 4 0
Summit 4 0
Big West 3 0
MAC 3 2
MEAC 3 0
MW 3 3
Non-D1 3 1
WAC 3 0
America East 2 0
CAA 2 1
Ivy 2 1
NEC 2 0
WCC 2 3
Big East 1 6
MAAC 1 1
Patriot 1 0
Big Sky 0 2

One of the primary reasons why the SEC has jumped up the non-conference scheduling ranking is the presence of a trio of other Power 7 leagues at the top of this breakdown. Even Pac-12 teams, who don’t typically meet SEC squads in football, will play eight games against SEC foes during November and December. In fact, when you look at the top 10 conferences above, the Pac-12 is the only one that doesn’t make sense regionally.

While the Big Sky is the sole D1 conference without a preset matchup against an SEC squad, both Florida and Georgia could meet teams from those conferences if things go wrong in their respective exempt tournaments Thanksgiving weekend.

SEC 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 5 6 8 19 1.357142857 13
26-50 4 4 5 13 0.9285714286 9
51-75 10 5 5 20 1.428571429 5
76-100 10 3 3 16 1.142857143 6
101-150 22 4 1 27 1.928571429 8
151-200 12 1 3 16 1.142857143 6
201-250 21 0 1 22 1.571428571 2
251-300 10 2 0 12 0.8571428571 3
301-351 11 0 1 12 0.8571428571 1
Non-D1 3 0 0 3 0.2142857143 1
Total 108 25 27 160
Average 7.714285714 1.785714286 1.928571429 11.42857143
Percentage 0.675 0.15625 0.16875
Conference Rank (of 32) 6th 28th 3rd

Of the 160 known non-conference matchups present on SEC schedules, a staggering 68 will come against teams in the top 100 of the four-year ranking. But you should also take note that 23 of the 32 set games against top 50 opponents will take place off campus. That fact alone explains why the SEC’s slates for this season rank so highly nationally. But then when you notice that just 24 games feature teams ranked in the bottom 101, the increased quality of the league’s slates becomes even more apparent.

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.

Games marked with a ^ are part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

9. Tennessee Volunteers

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

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)
Presbyterian (349)* None Purdue (19)* None Georgia Tech (73)
High Point (207) Villanova (1) or Wake Forest (66)
Mercer (151) WKU (190)* Iowa State (14)^
Lipscomb (240) Arizona (7) or
North Carolina (6) SMU (15) or
Furman (196) UNI (82) or
North Carolina State (67)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Georgia Tech, Presbyterian, Lipscomb) and 1 loss (@North Carolina)

The Volunteers managed to get to .500 in Rick Barnes’s second season in charge, though that was only a one-win improvement over 2015-16’s 15-victory campaign. Still, a hellacious schedule that includes three Power 7 road games, a home contest with North Carolina, and a grueling three-games at the Battle 4 Atlantis could put Tennessee in position to land a bid if it can manage to win 19 or 20.

13. Kentucky Wildcats

*Exempt Event: Adolph Rupp 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)
Utah Valley (254) None Kansas (5) Monmouth (108) West Virginia (11)^
Vermont (89) (Chicago) (Madison Square Garden)
ETSU (121)* UCLA (28)
Troy (228)* (New Orleans)
Fort Wayne (141)*
UIC (302)*
Harvard (106)
Virginia Tech (75)
Louisville (8)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (UCLA (NCAA)) and 3 losses (UCLA, @Louisville, Kansas)

As usual, John Calipari has built a schedule full of decent home opponents—even the worst team on this slate according to the four-year rankings, UIC, could contend for a league title this season—and plenty of neutral-site tests. The latter, designed to prepare the Wildcats for the SEC Tournament and NCAAs, haven’t worked as planned recently, as UK has failed to reach the last two Final Fours. However, this year’s showdowns with Kansas in Chicago and frequent foe UCLA in New Orleans might just do the trick. And if they aren’t enough, no fewer than four potential NCAA squads visit Rupp Arena this season, while Kentucky heads to West Virginia for the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

24. Texas A&M Aggies

*Exempt Event: Legends Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (2)
UC Santa Barbara (201)* None West Virginia (11) Arizona (7) USC (65)
Pepperdine (192) (Ramstein AFB, Germany) (Phoenix) Kansas (5)^
UTRGV (335) Oklahoma State (32)*
Prairie View A&M (326) Pittsburgh (53) or
Savannah State (330) Penn State (95)*
Northern Kentucky (222)
Buffalo (104)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 3 losses (USC, Arizona (N), @West Virginia)

Even though the Aggies only finished a game over .500 in 2016-17, they’re expected to return national prominence this season, thanks a more experienced roster and some highly-touted new arrivals. And while the lineup of teams visiting Reed Arena this season isn’t all that exciting, A&M will get the opportunity to avenge three 2016-17 defeats in their games away from College Station. Plus, they’ll renew acquaintances with former Big 12 rival Kansas in one of the Big 12/SEC Challenge event’s marquee matchups.

Keep an eye on how Billy Kennedy’s team performs at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. If the Aggies play to their potential, they should roll over two likely overmatched opponents.

27. Alabama Crimson Tide

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

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Lipscomb (240) Mercer (151) Memphis (79) None Arizona (7)
Alabama A&M (344)* (Huntsville, Ala.) (Annapolis, Md.)
UT Arlington (109)* Texas (39) BYU (51)*
Louisiana Tech (97) (Birmingham) Minnesota (64)*
UCF (136)
Rhode Island (56)
Oklahoma (23)^

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

While the Crimson Tide will play just seven games at Coleman Coliseum this fall, they’ll also only leave the state of Alabama for four. The most difficult of those should come in Brooklyn, where Bama will meet Big Ten title contender Minnesota on the second day of the Barclays Center Classic, and in Tucson, as Arizona is the Tide’s lone true road opponent before SEC play. However, the home schedule isn’t without its potential pitfalls, as UT Arlington, Louisiana Tech, UCF, and Rhode Island are all potential NCAA teams. Then there are the matchups against Texas and Oklahoma, the bottom two in the Big 12 a season ago. If both are markedly improved, this schedule could really boost Alabama’s national fortunes in Avery Johnson’s third season at the Capstone.

34. Florida Gators

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Motion Bracket

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0-1)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (0-1)
Gardner-Webb (213) Clemson (47) Stanford (74)* None Portland State (257)
North Florida (209) (Sunrise, Fla.) Gonzaga (4) or (or Duke, Butler,
New Hampshire (220)* Ohio State (46)* or Texas)*
Florida State (36) Duke (9) or
Loyola of Chicago (140) Butler (26) or
James Madison (173) Texas (39)
Incarnate Word (271) (or Portland State)*
Baylor (13)^ Cincinnati (20)
(Newark, N.J.)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 2 losses (Gonzaga (N), @Florida State)

Last season, the Gators played just one non-conference game at the O’Connell Center, thanks to renovations that ended in December. That was great for me, since I got to see seven games on an extended holiday trip, but not so much for the Rowdy Reptiles in Gainesville. Florida makes up for that this season, as it won’t play a single true non-league road game—unless it drops its first two games at the Phil Knight Invitational. That combo of results would likely set up a showdown with Portland State in the Motion Bracket’s seventh-place game. If that happens, UF will have plenty to worry about, thanks to the rough matchups that will follow the trip to Portland—Florida State and Baylor in Gainesville, Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Games in Newark, and Clemson in the Orange Bowl Classic. But even without a true road game, this schedule should still prepare the Gators to build upon last season’s Elite Eight trip.

54. Arkansas Razorbacks

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Victory Bracket

True Home Games (0) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1-3) Semi-Road Games (0-2) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (0) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1-3) Semi-Road Games (0-2) True Road Games (1)
Samford (225) Troy (228) Oklahoma (23)* Portland (215) Houston (72)
Bucknell (128)* (North Little Rock) North Carolina (6) (or North Carolina)*
Fresno State (116) (or Portland)* Oregon (18)
Colorado State (92) Michigan State (16) or (or Michigan State,
Minnesota (64) Connecticut (55) or Connecticut, or
Oral Roberts (216) DePaul (171) DePaul)*
Cal State Bakersfield (139) (or Oregon)*
Oklahoma State (32)^

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Houston) and 3 losses (@Minnesota, @Oklahoma State, North Carolina (NCAA))

The Hogs will represent the SEC in the PK80’s other bracket, and they could get an NCAA rematch against North Carolina in the semifinals. The Heels could be the first of three 2016-17 opponents Arkansas is able to gain revenge against, as Minnesota and Oklahoma State, teams that defeated the Razorbacks in their own buildings last season, head to Fayetteville later this fall. With Houston expected to slip back after a couple of NIT seasons, it’s the home contests against Patriot League champ Bucknell and Mountain West contenders Fresno State and Colorado State provide this slate with a bit of extra heft.

94. Vanderbilt Commodores

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

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
Austin Peay (290)* None Virginia (2) Seton Hall (48) Belmont (111)
UNC Asheville (143)* Rhode Island (56) (or Rhode Island)* Arizona State (85)
USC (65) (or Seton Hall)*
Radford (255)
Kansas State (41)
Middle Tennessee (81)
Houston Baptist (282)
Alcorn State (328)
TCU (69)^

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Belmont) and 1 loss (@Middle Tennessee)

Last season, the Commodores became the first 15-loss team to earn an at-large bid, thanks in no small part to their non-conference schedule. And guess what, Bryce Drew is at it again, as even two of the weakest teams on this slate—Houston Baptist and Alcorn State—might join eight or nine other squads in the field of 68. Getting USC and 2017 NIT champ TCU at Memorial Gym is significant, and sweeping those games might just help push Vandy to another bid if it experiences another up-and-down campaign

99. Missouri Tigers

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

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)
Iowa State (14) None Long Beach State (156)* UCF (136) Utah (24)
Wagner (244) St. John's (102) or (or West Virginia, UCF (136)*
Emporia State (Non-D1) Oregon State (135)* Nebraska, Marist)*
Miami (Ohio) (253) West Virginia (11) or
Green Bay (118) Nebraska (88) or
North Florida (209) Marist (312)
Stephen F. Austin (99) (or UCF)*
Illinois (71)
(St. Louis)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Miami (Ohio)) and 1 loss (Illinois (N))

Yes, Mizzou won just eight games a season ago. But with new head coach Cuonzo Martin and potential top NBA pick Michael Porter Jr. in the fold, hopes are high that the Tigers can return to the NCAA for the first time since 2013. This schedule has the potential to get the Tigers there, though they might need some help from an Iowa State squad that’s likely rebuilding, a Utah outfit that landed in the NIT last time around, and the numerous power conference squads in the AdvoCare Invitational that are in a similar spot to Missouri. However, if the Tigers can meet West Virginia in that event’s championship game, there’s a good chance they can put themselves on the road to a postseason return.

103. Ole Miss Rebels

*Exempt Event: MGM Resorts Main Event

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
Louisiana (123) Utah (24)* UNLV (154) Middle Tennessee (81)
Eastern Kentucky (217)* Rice (224) (or Rice)* Texas (39)^
Georgia State (117)* (or UNLV)*
South Dakota State (119)
Virginia Tech (75)
Sam Houston State (193)
Illinois State (70)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (200)
Bradley (270)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Bradley) and 2 losses (Middle Tennessee, @Virginia Tech)

Take a guess as to how many times Andy Kennedy’s squads have won fewer than 20 games during his 11(!!) seasons in Oxford. Give up? Twice—a 19-win campaign in 2013-14 and a 16-victory one in 2008-09. Given that track record, I’m a little bit skeptical when I hear the Rebels might struggle to get there this season. That being said, there are many potential landmines on this slate. And that’s not limited to Ole Miss’s tournament in Vegas or the games at Middle Tennessee and Texas. The home roster features potential trap games against Louisiana, Georgia State, South Dakota State, Virginia Tech, and Illinois State (in the Twitter Classic) too.

108. LSU Tigers

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (1)
Alcorn State (328) None Michigan (27)* Chaminade (non-D1) Memphis (79)
Samford (225) Notre Dame (21) (or Notre Dame)*
UT Martin (227) (or Chaminade)*
UNCW (91) Wichita State (10) or
Houston (72) VCU (35) or
Stephen F. Austin (99) California (49) or
Sam Houston State (193) Marquette (57)*
North Florida (209)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (North Florida, Houston) and 2 losses (Wichita State (N), VCU (N))

After a 10-win 2016-17 season, Johnny Jones was finally relieved of his duties in Baton Rouge, and former VCU head coach Will Wade moved south to replace him. The highlight of his first Bayou Bengal slate is the trip to Maui, where the Tigers could meet the Rams on day three. (VCU happened to beat LSU on the final day of last season’s Battle 4 Atlantis.) Otherwise, a pair of games against American Athletic foes—Houston and Memphis—and visits from UNCW and Stephen F. Austin look to be the most difficult matchups on this relatively soft schedule.

116. South Carolina Gamecocks

*Exempt Event: Puerto Rico Tip-Off

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Western Michigan (155)* Illinois State (70)* Temple (94) None Wofford (145)
UMass (130) Boise State (77) or (New York City) FIU (259)
Wyoming (131) UTEP (168)* Clemson (47)
Coastal Carolina (180) Iowa State (14) or
Limestone (Non-D1) Tulsa (87) or
Texas Tech (58)^ Western Michigan (155) or
Appalachian State (286)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (FIU) and 1 loss (Clemson)

With many key pieces responsible for the Gamecocks’ unexpected Final Four appearance having departed, it’s likely South Carolina will struggle a bit this winter. But the emergency relocation of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off to the Palmetto State, Conway/Myrtle Beach specifically, will give Frank Martin’s team an opportunity to play a trio of games against decent opposition in front of a friendly crowd. And if the Gamecocks can win them, that added early confidence could be quite helpful in the long run. The Garnet and Black will also play a pair of non-Power 7 opponents on the road—Wofford to open the Terriers’ new arena and FIU in Martin’s hometown of Miami.

125. Georgia Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Wooden Legacy

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
Bryant (309) None San Diego State (50) or None Cal State Fullerton (272)*
USC Upstate (250) Sacramento State (275)* Marquette (57)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (200) Saint Mary's (22) or UMass (130)
Winthrop (144) Harvard (106) or Kansas State (41)^
Georgia Tech (73) Saint Joseph's (107) or
Temple (94) Washington State (183)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@Georgia Tech) and 1 loss (Marquette)

The Bulldogs, winners of 19 a season ago, have the most varied schedule in the SEC. That’s primarily due to the four road games—a Wooden Legacy quarterfinal against host Cal State Fullerton, a trip to Milwaukee to play Marquette, a matchup at UMass out of the A 10, and a Big 12/SEC showdown with Kansas State. That’s a highly unusual mix for a Power 7 team. Georgia, a notoriously slow starter under Mark Fox, will want to avoid falling into that trap this season, particularly since a strong showing in California will be necessary to push the team into the at-large hunt.

151. Auburn Tigers

*Exempt Event: Gildan Charleston Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
Norfolk State (261) Middle Tennessee (81) Indiana State (174)* Clemson (47) Dayton (40)*
Winthrop (144) (Birmingham) Temple (94) or (or Dayton, Ohio, Murray State (153)
George Mason (157) Old Dominion (110)* Hofstra)*
Gardner-Webb (213) Dayton (40) or
UAB (147) Ohio (127) or
UConn (55) Hofstra (132)
Cornell (277) (or Clemson)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@UAB, @UConn) and 0 losses

Bruce Pearl heads into his fourth season in charge on the Plains without an NCAA appearance to his name and, suddenly, an FBI investigation surrounding the program. So, you might say there’s a bit of pressure on the Tigers to succeed. This schedule, highlighted by a winnable Charleston Classic, a visit from UConn, and a meeting with Middle Tennessee in Birmingham, should help Auburn do that. However, they might need to do some damage in league play to end a March Madness drought that’s threatening the 15-year mark.

151. Mississippi State Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Hoops In The Heartland

True Home Games (11) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (11) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Alabama State (327) None Southern Mississippi (308) None Cincinnati (20)
Florida A&M (351)* (Jackson, Miss.)
Green Bay (118)*
Stephen F. Austin (99)*
Jacksonville State (258)
North Dakota State (134)*
Dayton (40)
North Georgia (Non--D1)
UT Martin (227)
Little Rock (165)
North Florida (209)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Southern Mississippi (N)) and 0 losses

Mississippi’s State’s own NCAA drought dates back to 2009 and some pundits expect the Bulldogs to end it this season. However, thanks to this home heavy schedule, Ben Howland’s team might have to put up a sterling league record to do so. While scheduling a road game at American contender Cincinnati is commendable, the two strongest teams visiting Starkville, Stephen F. Austin and Dayton, might not quite reach the level of recent vintages. MSU also has three teams in the bottom 50 nationally on its slate, including 351st-ranked Florida A&M. That’s more than a quarter of all games the SEC lined up against that group.

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