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

With several ACC home slates best described as “aggressively dull,” the onus will be on league members to win games away from home this November and December, particularly on neutral floors.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Gonzaga vs North Carolina
2017’s National Champions should be primed for a repeat after working their way through the ACC’s roughest non-conference slate.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

It’s really quite impressive that the 15-member ACC has a whopping 14 teams in the top 75 of the four-year ranking, with just one team—Hi, Boston College—outside of that group. But the quality at the top of the conference—nine top 50 teams with five in the top 25 and four in the top 10 alone—drives the strength of the group as a whole.

ACC Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Virginia 14.087805 2
North Carolina 13.102515 6
Louisville 12.556065 8
Duke 12.549925 9
Notre Dame 9.4072705 21
Miami 8.7435555 29
Florida State 8.063156 36
Syracuse 7.56273 38
Clemson 6.710228 47
Pittsburgh 6.320605 53
Wake Forest 4.8292395 66
N.C. State 4.717703 67
Georgia Tech 4.5539585 73
Virginia Tech 4.5227932 75
Boston College -0.1641461 160
Average 7.837560207 46
Conference Rank 2nd of 32

Ranking The Schedules

Unfortunately, the ACC’s consistent excellence doesn’t extend to its non-conference scheduling. While ranking above the Big Ten and American, the league lags behind the top four of the Power 7—the SEC, Big East, Pac-12, and Big 12—across all four categories. Just four ACC teams find themselves among the top 100 in each measure, while Duke’s Phil Knight Invitational participation lifts it into that class in every grouping, save one—the Known Games metric.

However, a whopping nine ACC teams own non-league schedules that rank within Division I’s bottom half in three of the four tables. And only N.C. State’s participation in the Battle 4 Atlantis keeps the conference from the shame of having at least three teams ranking among the bottom 50 nationally in each and every scheduling category.

*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

ACC Schedule Strengths And National Rankings

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
North Carolina* 5.109467996 29 3.939480839 58 5.80700321 23 4.129629624 47
Virginia* 5.056003172 33 4.579291682 40 5.172319052 41 4.939687292 25
Louisville 4.604814 44 4.604814 39 4.604814 60 4.604814 37
Syracuse 4.2944162 60 4.2944162 48 4.2944162 71 4.2944162 45
Duke* 3.638944179 80 1.983694427 161 4.255941804 72 3.051624169 92
Clemson* 2.594071815 128 2.367306508 134 3.057398235 122 2.056438544 143
Notre Dame* 1.794815119 178 0.1864433818 265 2.548767169 142 1.217324281 202
Miami* 1.3718408 214 0.4212592613 254 1.516611447 218 1.202232759 204
Florida State 0.6071800198 254 0.6071800198 245 0.6071800198 266 0.6071800198 239
Virginia Tech* 0.2758394715 268 -0.3119407958 293 0.5322656115 271 0.0194133315 273
Pittsburgh* 0.2454067683 269 -0.6956030115 309 0.1715114894 281 0.3193020471 252
Wake Forest* 0.1576070917 273 -0.1361706025 283 1.144515998 230 -0.5815959708 297
Boston College* -0.5966259087 310 -0.9803479375 321 -0.2797513269 305 -0.9135004904 315
N.C. State* -0.6550961488 313 -2.8029275 347 0.5681732692 268 -1.981134144 340
Georgia Tech -1.176192635 333 -1.176192635 327 -1.176192635 336 -1.176192635 327
Conference Average 1.821499463 185.7333333 1.125380256 208.2666667 2.18833157 180.4 1.452642602 189.2
Conference Rank 17th of 32 25th of 32 14th of 32 19th of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

With 14 top 75 teams and just four Average Schedules ranked that high, it shouldn’t surprise you that the ACC joins the Big 12 and Big Ten in under-scheduling dominance. Each and every member of those three power leagues—a total of 39 teams—scheduled below their four-year ranking. Looking at all 32 conferences, the news is worse. Only the MEAC’s and SWAC’s schedules are more out of whack with recent performance than the ACC’s.

In terms of the league’s individual teams, the gaps range from respectable—four ACC teams kept the difference under 40—to excessive. Five teams’ chasms are greater than 200 places with Virginia Tech and Miami not too far off.

ACC 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
58 Syracuse 38 60 -22
61 North Carolina 6 29 -23
78 Virginia 2 33 -31
92 Louisville 8 44 -36
162 Duke 9 80 -71
184 Clemson 47 128 -81
271 Boston College 160 310 -150
282 Notre Dame 21 178 -157
299 Miami 29 214 -185
303 Virginia Tech 75 268 -193
311 Wake Forest 66 273 -207
314 Pittsburgh 53 269 -216
316 Florida State 36 254 -218
328 N.C. State 67 313 -246
334 Georgia Tech 73 333 -260
226.2 Average (30/32 conf.) 46 185.7333333 -139.7333333

ACC Road And 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
29 (7 Big Ten/ACC Challenge; +1 possible in MTEs) 10 (+1 semi-road game +1 possible road game in MTEs +1 possible semi-road game in MTEs) 1 (in the Maui Invitational)

Somewhat surprisingly, the ACC leads the Power 7 conferences in true road non-conference games, though the league would drop below the SEC and American Athletic if you eliminated the seven away Big Ten/ACC Challenge games from the equation. The Pac-12, meanwhile, edges the ACC (and American) to top the list of the most non-Power 7 road games lined up.

Just one ACC team will play a team from outside of Division I during the regular season, and it’s a forgivable game. Someone has to play Chaminade in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational quarterfinals. However, with a change coming to that event, a meeting with the Silverswords could happen on campus in future even-numbered years.

ACC Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Big Ten 19 5
SoCon 14 1
A 10 13 5
MEAC 12 0
NEC 10 0
Big South 9 1
Patriot 9 0
SEC 9 6
Big 12 5 3
Big East 5 6
Ivy 6 1
MAC 5 1
WAC 5 1
American Athletic 4 5
MAAC 4 1
MVC 4 2
SWAC 4 0
America East 3 0
Atlantic Sun 3 0
C-USA 3 3
CAA 3 2
Horizon 3 0
Pac-12 3 6
Southland 3 0
Sun Belt 3 0
Big Sky 2 0
Big West 2 0
OVC 2 0
Summit 2 0
MW 1 0
Non-D1 1 0
WCC 1 1

At least one team from each of the other 31 Division I conferences appears on at least one ACC schedule this season. As you’d expect, the Big Ten leads the way, though just five of the 19 games aren’t part of the two leagues’ annual challenge series. A total of 14 contests featuring SEC or Big East opposition is disappointing, though several more could happen in exempt tournaments.

Of the mid-majors, the SoCon, MEAC, and NEC lead the way. And with the latter two ranking 31st and 30th, respectively, in the four-year conference rankings, you can understand why ACC schedules struggle to compete with those from the SEC, Big East, Big 12, and Pac-12.

ACC 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 6 4 12 0.8 9
26-50 6 4 5 15 1 12
51-75 4 6 2 12 0.8 9
76-100 9 2 5 16 1.066666667 8
101-150 11 3 1 15 1 4
151-200 17 3 3 23 1.533333333 5
201-250 20 2 3 25 1.666666667 1
251-300 19 2 1 22 1.466666667 2
301-351 30 1 0 31 2.066666667 0
Non-D1 0 0 1 1 0.06666666667 0
Total 118 29 25 172
Average 7.866666667 1.933333333 1.666666667 11.46666667
Percentage 0.6860465116 0.1686046512 0.1453488372
Conference Rabk (of 32) 5th 27th 8th

Much like the Big Ten, the ACC could learn a lot about scheduling from the SEC. (What an odd sentence to type, even if it’s true.) Let’s compare the three comparably-sized leagues in some key scheduling metrics, shall we?

  • Games against the 51 worst teams in Division I: Big Ten 34; ACC 31; SEC 12
  • Games against the 101 worst teams: Big Ten 56; ACC 53; SEC 24
  • Games against the top 25: SEC 19; Big Ten 15; ACC 12
  • Games against the top 50: SEC 32; Big Ten 29; ACC 27
  • Games against the top 100: SEC 68; Big Ten 47; ACC 35

Of course, since the ACC hasn’t suffered through the Big Ten’s March recent struggles, the conference probably shouldn’t consider a league-wide change to November and December scheduling. But if the SEC starts to see increased postseason success as a result of beefing up its early slates, maybe both conferences will follow its lead.

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 Ten/ACC Challenge.

29. North Carolina Tar Heels

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Victory Bracket

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (1-2) True Road Games (2)
UNI (82) None Oklahoma (23) or Portland (215)* Stanford (74)
Bucknell (128)* Arkansas (42)* Oregon (18) Tennessee (62)
Michigan (27)^ Michigan State (16) or (or Michigan State,
Tulane (235) UConn (55) or UConn, or
Western Carolina (268) DePaul (171) DePaul)*
Wofford (145) (or Oregon)*
Davidson (78)
(Charlotte)
Ohio State (46)
(New Orleans)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 6 wins (Tulane (N), Davidson, Tennessee, UNI, Arkansas (NCAA), Oregon (NCAA)) and 0 losses

With another national title banner claimed and the NCAA controversially off their backs, the Tar Heels head into the season with an early slate that will prepare them to repeat. Only three teams from outside of the top 200 are anywhere to be found, and the game with Portland is UNC’s opener at the Phil Knight Invitational. Win that and the Heels could play two squads they disposed of on the way to the NCAA crown—Arkansas and Oregon—on the final two days in Portland. However, you have to think Carolina would prefer a Sunday matchup with fellow national title contender Michigan State over one a rematch with the Ducks.

True road games against two teams that should be improved—Stanford and Tennessee—won’t be taken lightly. However, North Carolina’s CBS Sports Classic matchup with Ohio State might end up being a blowout. As for the six teams visiting the Dean Dome, Big Ten/ACC Challenge foe Michigan, opening opponent UNI, and Patriot League favorite Bucknell should all adequately challenge the Tar Heels.

33. Virginia Cavaliers

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

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1-2) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (2)
UNC Greensboro (210) None Vanderbilt (37)* Seton Hall (48) VCU (35)
Austin Peay (290)* Rhode Island (56) (or Rhode Island) West Virginia (11)
Monmouth (108)* (or Seton Hall)*
Wisconsin (12)^
Lehigh (163)
Davidson (78)
Savannah State (330)
Hampton (280)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@UNC Greensboro, and 1 loss (West Virginia)

Monmouth (as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off) and Wisconsin (in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge)—a pair of teams going through some manner of rebuilding/reloading—are the two biggest names visiting John Paul Jones Arena this year. (Though Davidson might have something to say about that before all is said and done.) But the bulk of this schedule’s strength is in the games away from Charlottesville. In-state rival VCU has long relished the opportunity to get the Cavaliers to visit the Siegel Center, while West Virginia will be a great December exam for Tony Bennett’s club. Then there are the two games in Brooklyn for the NIT—both of which will feature fellow 2017 NCAA qualifiers. And all three potential opponents will have a great chance at returning this spring.

44. Louisville Cardinals

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
George Mason (157) None Memphis (79)* None Purdue (19)^
Omaha (176) (New York City) Kentucky (3)
Southern Illinois (158)
St. Francis (Pa.) (279)
Seton Hall (48)
Siena (169)*
Indiana (31)
Bryant (309)*
Albany (126)*
Grand Canyon (172)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 5 wins (Purdue, @Grand Canyon, Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana (N)) and 0 losses

It will be up to David Padgett to guide the Cardinals through a season where they’re again surrounded by controversy—this time, it’s the FBI investigation into coaching corruption that led to the ouster of both head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich. And even though Louisville will play 10 home games before ACC play tips off, this schedule isn’t quite as easy as you’d expect with that total. Just one team that’s visiting the KFC Yum Center this season, Bryant, doesn’t look like a threat to qualify for any postseason tournament, with Seton Hall and Indiana the trickiest visitors. As for the three games set for away from home, Purdue and Kentucky will be difficult to top in their own buildings, but Louisville might have caught a break in the Gotham Classic showcase against former Metro/Great Midwest/C-USA rival Memphis. The Tigers are another team with lowered expectations for 2017-18.

60. Syracuse Orange

*Exempt Event: HoopHall Miami Invitational

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Cornell (277) None Kansas (5) None Georgetown (52)
Iona (98) (Miami)
Texas Southern (206)* UConn (55)
Oakland (115)* (New York)
Toledo (114)*
Maryland (30)^
Colgate (246)
Buffalo (104)
St. Bonaventure (84)
Eastern Michigan (137)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Colgate, Eastern Michigan, Cornell) and 2 losses (UConn (N), Georgetown)

As usual, Jim Boeheim’s Orange will play a limited number of games outside of the state of New York—though again, this is a tired criticism that ignores the number of times other Power 7 teams schedule in a similar manner. But this lineup looks better than Syracuse’s more recent ones. Sure, there could be quite a difference between the end-of-season records of Kansas (who Syracuse plays in Miami as part of their exempt event), Georgetown (have you seen their non-conference slate), and Jimmy V opponent UConn, with the latter very much a mystery team. However, the 10 home games feature just three teams from outside of the top 200, and one of those—Texas Southern—will join Iona, Oakland, the three MAC opponents, and St. Bonaventure as legitimate contenders for a place in the bracket come March. One question for Cuse is whether a relatively inexperienced roster can make it through that group without being upset by veteran mid-major opposition.

80. Duke Blue Devils

*Exempt Event: Phil Knight Invitational Motion Bracket

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (3)
Elon (170) None Michigan State (16) Portland State (257)*
Utah Valley (254) (Chicago) Indiana (31)^
Southern (284) Butler (26) or St. John's (102)
Furman (196)* Texas (39)*
South Dakota (191) Gonzaga (4) or
St. Francis (Pa.) (279) Florida (17) or
Evansville (120) Ohio State (46) or
Stanford (74)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Michigan State, Florida (N), Elon (N)) and 0 losses

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Duke really is scheduled to play three true road games this season. Sure, one is against a Portland State team playing in its part-time home in a Phil Knight Invitational quarterfinal and the other is a mid-ACC test at Cameron North (AKA Madison Square Garden) against St. John’s, but you take what you can get in Power 7 scheduling. And with seven underwhelming home games, this schedule derives its strength from those trips (don’t forget the matchup with Indiana in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge), a showdown with Michigan State in Chicago for the Champions Classic, and two probable high-quality games on days two and three in Portland. In total, those matchups should put the Blue Devils in a strong position to earn a spot on the top three seed lines even before jumping into ACC play.

128. Clemson Tigers

*Exempt Event: Gildan Charleston Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (3) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
Western Carolina (268) Ohio (127)* None Florida (17) Ohio State (46)*
North Carolina A&T (348) Dayton (40) or (Sunrise, Fla.)
Texas Southern (206) Hofstra (132)*
UNC Asheville (143) Temple (94)* or
Samford (225) Old Dominion (110)* or
South Carolina (45) Auburn (122)* or
Louisiana (123) Indiana St. (174)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (@South Carolina) and 0 losses

Thanks to their participation in the Charleston Classic, the Tigers will play just two games outside of South Carolina this fall. Making matters worse, just two teams of the 12 listed here—Florida and Texas Southern—are ones I would put money on in November as being NCAA qualifiers come March. While Brad Brownell’s team should be favored to win three games over the weekend before Thanksgiving (something Clemson could not do in 2013, for the record), they’ll probably need help from possible opponents Dayton, Temple, and Auburn for those victories to help in the at-large race.

178. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (3)
Mount St. Mary's (236)* None Michigan (27) or Chaminade (non-D1)* DePaul (171)
Chicago State (342) LSU (90)* Michigan State (16)^
St. Francis-Brooklyn (317) Wichita State (10) or Delaware (269)
Ball State (197) VCU (35) or
Dartmouth (256) California (49) or
Southeastern Louisiana (298) Marquette (57)*
Indiana (31)
(Indianapolis)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Chicago State) and 0 losses

Much like Duke, the Fighting Irish are playing an uncharacteristic number of road contest this fall, though there’s a reason for each trip. Naturally, Notre Dame heads to East Lansing for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but the trip to DePaul will serve as the official opening for the Blue Demons’ new arena in downtown Chicago, while the visit to Delaware acts as a homecoming of sorts for former Blue Hen coach Mike Brey. However, the matchup at Michigan State will likely be the only real test of the trio. Combine that fact with a typically weak home slate and Notre Dame might need to take out Indiana in the Crossroads Classic and reach the Maui final to earn any non-league wins of note.

254. Florida State Seminoles

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

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
George Washington (83) Tulane (235) Fordham (186)* None Rutgers (199)^
Kennesaw State (305) (Tampa) Colorado State (92)* Florida (17)
The Citadel (323)* Oklahoma State (32)
Loyola (Md.) (293) (Sunrise, Fla.)
Charleston Southern (292)
Southern Mississippi (308)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Charleston Southern, George Washington (N), Southern Mississippi, Florida) and 0 losses

The Seminoles had better hope that Colorado State, one of their two opponents in the first-ever Jamaica Classic, and Oklahoma State, who will serve as FSU’s Orange Bowl Classic opposition, get their respective acts together. Otherwise, the only non-conference opponent of any quality on this slate will be Florida. And I wouldn’t expect the Noles’ three-game winning streak in that series to continue indefinitely. As for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, much like last season’s matchup against Miami, organizers assigning Rutgers a game against FSU is someone’s idea of a cruel joke.

214. Miami Hurricanes

*Exempt Event: Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (3)
Gardner-Webb (213) Princeton (76) Davidson (78) or La Salle (159) Minnesota (64)^
Navy (238) (AmericanAirlines Arena) New Mexico State (86) (Reading, Pa.) George Washington (83)
Florida A&M (351) USC (65) or Hawai'i (149)*
North Florida (209) Princeton (76) or
Boston University (214) Middle Tennessee (81) or
Akron (93)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (@North Florida, George Washington) and 0 losses

The closest thing the Hurricanes have to a high-profile home game is a HoopHall Miami matchup with Princeton—who Jim Larrañaga’s team could meet again on Christmas in the Diamond Head Classic—off campus. Speaking of the holiday event, Miami joins Duke in playing three true road games thanks to a quarterfinal against their exempt tournament’s home team. However, the Canes will undoubtedly face a more hostile crowd against Hawai’i than Duke will against Portland State.

The Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup against Minnesota will be Miami’s toughest test before heading to Honolulu, though an improved La Salle squad will have a shot at upsetting the Hurricanes in their meeting in Reading.

268. Virginia Tech Hokies

*Exempt Event: 2K Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Detroit Mercy (237)* None Saint Louis (239)* None Ole Miss (63)
The Citadel (323) Providence (43) or Kentucky (3)
Houston Baptist (282)* Washington (103)*
Morehead State (162)
Iowa (33)^
Radford (255)
Maryland Eastern Shore (315)
Presbyterian (349)
North Carolina A&T (348)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Maryland Eastern Shore, Ole Miss, The Citadel) and 0 losses

The Big Ten/ACC visit from Iowa aside, the Hokies own yet another ACC non-conference schedule where nearly all of the challenges will come away from campus. (Again, four sub-300 teams and five total teams from the bottom 100 nationally isn’t the way to schedule.) But of the four contests scheduled for away from Blacksburg, only the trip to Kentucky—by far the most difficult—is a surefire quality win opportunity. The 2K Classic semifinal against potential Atlantic 10 contender Saint Louis might be another...or not. And a loss there would likely prevent a showdown with Big East threat Providence. Then there’s a game at Ole Miss, another team that might take a step back this year.

Buzz Williams’s squad might be left, again, needing several quality ACC wins to earn a second straight NCAA trip. And Virginia Tech can’t count on decent seeding with this slate.

269. Pittsburgh Panthers

*Exempt Event: Legends Classic (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (9) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (1)
Montana (166)* None Penn State (95)* None Navy (238)
UC Santa Barbara (201)* Oklahoma State (32) or
Lehigh (163) Texas A&M (44)*
High Point (207) Duquesne (195)
Mount St. Mary's (236) (PPG Paints Arena)
West Virginia (11)
McNeese State (321)
Delaware State (338)
Towson (152)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Penn State (N) and 1 loss (Duquesne (N))

Pegged by many as the ACC’s likely 15th-place team this year, Pitt scheduled with lower expectations in mind. But there’s one exception as this was an odd season to bring West Virginia back—even if it was by popular demand. The two other oddities on this slate: a second straight neutral-site meeting against Penn State and a true road game against Navy. And with the Midshipmen having played previous Power 7 opponents close in the Veterans’ Classic, I wouldn’t be shocked if Kevin Stallings’s team became the first to lose to the hosts in the event’s short history.

273. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

*Exempt Event: Paradise Jam

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2-3)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2-3)
Georgia Southern (189) None Drake (260)* None Liberty (289)
Liberty (289) Colorado (60) or (or Houston, Drexel,
UNC Greensboro (210) Quinnipiac (264)* or Mercer)*
Illinois (71)^ Houston (72) or Charlotte (203)
Richmond (80) Mercer (151) or Coastal Carolina (180)
Army West Point (248) Drexel (242)
Tennessee (62) (or Liberty)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Coastal Carolina, @Richmond, Charlotte, @UNC Greensboro) and 0 losses

If things go sideways in the relocated Paradise Jam, the Demon Deacons could add a third non-conference road game to a slate that already includes trips to Coastal Carolina and Charlotte. That’s because Liberty, situated on the opposite side of the bracket from Wake Forest, is the host for the event this season. You’ll notice the Flames already appear on the Deacs’ home schedule. If Danny Manning’s squad wants to make a repeat NCAA trip, it will take care of business on the road and in Winston-Sales, where the contests against the three most difficult foes—Tennessee, Richmond, and Illinois—will take place. However, none of the three is a definite at-large threat here in November.

310. Boston College Eagles

*Exempt Event: Hall Of Fame Tip-Off (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)
Maine (343)* None Texas Tech (58) None Providence (43)
South Carolina State (334) Northwestern (61) or Nebraska (88)^
Sacred Heart (304)* La Salle (159)* Hartford (324)
Colgate (246)
Columbia (167)
Central Connecticut State (346)
Richmond (80)
Dartmouth (256)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Sacred Heart, Providence) and 3 losses (Richmond (N), Dartmouth, Hartford)

The Eagles head into this season on a 15-game losing streak, though that should end relatively quickly. That’s because BC’s first three opponents all rank in the bottom 50. But things get tricky again in game four, as the Eagles’ Hall of Fame Tip-Off semifinal opponent, Texas Tech, is one of three teams in that field with legitimate NCAA hopes. Keep an eye on the late November/early December stretch that will see Jim Christian’s team hit the road for its three true road games of the pre-ACC season, starting at Providence, who the Eagles upset last year, and ending at Hartford, who won in Chestnut Hill a season ago.

313. N.C. State Wolfpack

*Exempt Event: Battle 4 Atlantis Presented By Bad Boy Mowers

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)
VMI (318) None Arizona (7)* None None
Charleston Southern (292) SMU (15) or
Bryant (309) Northern Iowa (82)*
Presbyterian (349)* Villanova (1) or
Penn State (95)^ Purdue (19) or
South Carolina State (334) Tennessee (62) or
UMKC (251) Western Kentucky (190)*
UNC Greensboro (210)
Robert Morris (262)
Jacksonville (306)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: None

Of the Wolfpack’s 13 non-conference tilts, just the three at the difficult Battle 4 Atlantis will take place away from Raleigh. And with N.C. State paired with Arizona in the quarterfinals, Kevin Keatts’s first Pack team is likely to play a pair of consolation bracket games in the Bahamas. As for the home slate, the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Penn State fits right in with a lineup that looks aggressively dull. Still, State should head into ACC play with eight or nine wins, which is probably exactly the point of this early season lineup.

333. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

*Exempt Event: Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Bethune-Cookman (337)* None UCLA (28) None Wofford (145)
UTRGV (335)* (Shanghai, China) Georgia (54)
North Texas (303)*
Northwestern (61)^
Grambling State (350)*
Tennessee (62)
Florida A&M (351)
Wright State (161)
Coppin State (339)
Yale (96)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Wofford) and 2 losses (@Tennessee, Georgia)

It’s really difficult to build a non-conference schedule that ranks worse than one with no true road games. Somehow, Josh Pastner did that for his Yellow Jackets—who happen to be coming off an NIT final appearance. Yes, this slate isn’t all bad, thanks to the presence of three potentially great home games (Northwestern, Tennessee, and Yale—a very late addition) and excursions to China to play UCLA and Athens (Georgia) to face the Bulldogs. There’s even a field trip to Wofford‘s new arena in Spartanburg.

However, it’s the six games against teams ranked in the bottom 50 nationally, including the two worst—Grambling State and Florida A&M—that seriously dent this schedules respectability. It really doesn’t help that four of those contests make up Tech’s exempt event for 2017.

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