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Analyzing C-USA’s Non-Conference Schedules For 2017-18

Middle Tennessee is aiming for a third straight NCAA bid. And yet again, the Blue Raiders have built a non-conference schedule that would be at-large worthy in an ideal world.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Minnesota vs Middle Tennessee State
The C-USA champ Blue Raiders have knocked a Big Ten team out of two straight NCAA Tournaments.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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

Ranking The Teams

Conference USA last sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2012. You have to go all the way back to 2005 to find a year when the league placed a higher number of teams in the field. Amazingly, one of that season’s quartet of qualifiers—Charlotte—left and returned to C-USA in that 12-years span. But this league is far different than the one the 49ers departed in 2005. Now, just two C-USA members rank in the top 100 four-year rankings, with none in the top 50. Only five of the league’s 14 members find themselves in the top half of Division I with three teams found among the bottom 51.

While the conference’s metrics place it at the top of Division I’s bottom half, it still has plenty of names with strong basketball histories—Old Dominion, UAB, UTEP, WKU, and Middle Tennessee. And while the Blue Raiders seem to be re-establishing themselves as a consistent NCAA threat, the others face a tough climb in following them.

C-USA Team Score Rankings

Team Team Score National Rank
Team Team Score National Rank
Middle Tennessee 4.0539095 81
Louisiana Tech 3.14218055 97
Old Dominion 2.547691 110
UAB 0.600188 147
UTEP -0.325375 168
Marshall -0.619817 178
WKU -1.212781 190
Charlotte -1.5478548 203
Rice -2.386309 224
FIU -3.9336935 259
FAU -5.085492 291
UTSA -5.473739 301
North Texas -5.650054 303
Southern Mississippi -6.03093 308
Average -1.565862589 204.2857143
Conference Rank 17th of 32

Ranking The Schedules

WKU and Middle Tennessee are the only two C-USA teams ranked consistently among the top 100 across all four scheduling categories, with the Hilltoppers’ Average and Maximum Schedules standing out in particular. But the majority of league slates rank worse than 176th and, therefore, in the bottom half of Division I. Contenders UTEP, Louisiana Tech, and UAB are among the biggest disappointments, though only FIU’s schedule ranks among the 50 worst in all four measures.

Still, a consistent lack of quality scheduling keeps C-USA among the one-bid leagues on an annual basis.

*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

C-USA 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
WKU* 4.585483857 46 3.249776641 87 5.393757158 34 3.828755745 56
Middle Tennessee* 3.949062815 67 3.473863553 77 4.601870044 61 3.38786319 78
Marshall 2.477691709 132 2.477691709 127 2.477691709 148 2.477691709 116
Old Dominion* 2.080374351 156 1.726179823 176 2.636714852 140 1.551032307 181
Rice* 2.049803748 157 1.321413977 201 2.274614056 165 1.82499344 159
UTSA* 1.883473595 174 2.089486503 151 2.52135508 145 1.387807214 193
Southern Mississippi 1.53313552 199 1.53313552 192 1.53313552 217 1.53313552 185
UTEP* 1.464690214 204 0.1362652778 268 2.770461135 134 0.4592128021 246
Charlotte 1.269196717 217 1.269196717 205 1.269196717 225 1.269196717 198
North Texas 1.143960092 221 1.143960092 209 1.143960092 231 1.143960092 208
Louisiana Tech* 0.7430949106 246 0.7591234659 233 0.9376576288 246 0.5485321923 241
FAU* 0.6323484781 252 1.05511878 215 0.7491695688 257 0.488165425 244
UAB* -0.1929444682 293 -1.486867119 332 0.7746476304 256 -0.8256315523 310
FIU -1.206861196 336 -1.206861196 328 -1.206861196 337 -1.206861196 330
Average 1.600893596 192.8571429 1.252963125 200.0714286 1.991240714 185.4285714 1.276275258 196.0714286
Conference Rank 22nd of 32 23rd of 32 20th of 32 21st of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

C-USA over-schedulers edge under-schedulers by an eight-to-six margin, which means C-USA’s average scheduling gap ranks third nationally. No single team’s gap is greater than 150, which is a positive, but the the perceived contenders are all over the place. Middle Tennessee over-scheduled by a highly respectable 14 places, while UTEP and ODU under-scheduled by 36 and 46, respectively. On the other hand, WKU, UAB, and Louisiana Tech did the worst—the Hilltoppers overdid things by 144 spots in Rick Stansbury’s second season, while the Blazers and Bulldogs under-scheduled by slightly more.

C-USA 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
40 Charlotte 203 217 -14
41 Middle Tennessee 81 67 14
93 UTEP 168 204 -36
100 FAU 291 252 39
114 Old Dominion 110 156 -46
116 Marshall 178 132 46
153 Rice 224 157 67
177 FIU 259 336 -77
187 North Texas 303 221 82
219 Southern Mississippi 308 199 109
241 UTSA 301 174 127
260 WKU 190 46 144
265 UAB 147 293 -146
268 Louisiana Tech 97 246 -149
162.4285714 Average (3/32 conf.) 204.2857143 192.8571429 11.42857143

C-USA 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
87 5 24 (+1 semi-road game, +1 possible semi-road game in MTEs) 26

C-USA managed to do fairly well in scheduling Power 7 squads this season, picking up five home games against the group. However, the percentage of non-D1 home games—30—is far too high for a league that wants to be considered more of a player nationally.

C-USA Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Non-D1 26 0
Sun Belt 13 3
OVC 11 0
Southland 10 0
CAA 9 3
American Athletic 7 3
Atlantic Sun 7 0
SEC 7 4
SWAC 7 0
Big 12 6 1
Big Ten 6 2
MEAC 6 0
A 10 5 2
MAC 5 5
WAC 5 2
MW 4 3
ACC 3 3
Big East 3 0
Horizon 3 1
MVC 3 6
SoCon 3 0
Big Sky 2 1
Big South 2 1
America East 1 1
Ivy 1 1
MAAC 1 2
Pac-12 1 2
Summit 1 3
WCC 1 0
Big West 0 1
NEC 0 0
Patriot 0 0

And indeed, Conference USA teams have twice as many games scheduled against non-D1 squads than the top league on the list, the Sun Belt. Note that the top three D1 conferences appearing on C-USA schedules—the Southland (45 non-D1 games), Sun Belt (25), and OVC (19)—all fill their slates out with home games against teams from D2 and below. Seems to me there might be a common solution to this problem. However, like so many other mid-major leagues, there’s a serious divide in the scheduling of non-D1 games between the conference’s haves and have-nots.

C-USA 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 0 4 1 5 0.3571428571 6
26-50 1 6 0 7 0.5 5
51-75 2 6 0 8 0.5714285714 4
76-100 6 5 4 15 1.071428571 8
101-150 11 11 2 24 1.714285714 12
151-200 9 6 7 22 1.571428571 7
201-250 9 6 0 15 1.071428571 3
251-300 8 7 3 18 1.285714286 4
301-351 15 1 2 18 1.285714286 0
Non-D1 25 0 1 26 1.857142857 0
Total 86 52 20 158
Average 6.142857143 3.714285714 1.428571429 11.28571429
Percentage 0.5443037975 0.3291139241 0.1265822785
Conference Rank (of 32) 11th 22nd 11th

Of the 158 known games on Conference USA schedules, 99 feature teams from outside of the top 150—and that includes those 26 non-D1 games. While C-USA’s 24 games against teams ranked between 101st and 150th are evenly split between home and away, the majority of the league’s top 100 matchups—21 of 35—will take place away from home.

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.

46. WKU Hilltoppers

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

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)
Missouri State (188) None Villanova (1)* None Ohio (127)
Kentucky Wesleyan (Non-D1) Purdue (19) or Wisconsin (12)
Nicholls State (329)* Tennessee (62)* Austin Peay (290)
Eastern Kentucky (217) Arizona (7) or
Wright State (161) SMU (15) or
Indiana State (174) UNI (82) or
Belmont (111) North Carolina State (67)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (@Indiana State, Ohio, Austin Peay) and 1 loss (Eastern Kentucky)

Earlier this offseason, expectations were super-high for the Hilltoppers, as five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson was lined up to play for Rick Stansbury’s team in 2017-18. But then he left, returned, and left again. Still, WKU is expected to build upon last season’s 15-17 mark—one that featured a 6-7 non-conference run—with or without Robinson on the roster. And even with Belmont visiting Bowling Green and trips to a loaded Battle 4 Atlantis (where the Toppers will represent host C-USA) and Wisconsin, I suspect WKU will better that mark. The question is whether they can extend any possible improvement into the grind of league play.

67. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

*Exempt Event: Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (4-5)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (2-3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (4-5)
Trevecca (Non-D1) None Princeton (76)* Auburn (122) Murray State (153)
Belmont (111) USC (65) or (Birmingham) Tennessee State (226)
FGCU (146) Akron (93)* FGCU (146)
Ole Miss (63) Miami (Fla.) (29) or Vanderbilt (37)
Davidson (78) or Hawai'i (149)
New Mexico State (86)* (or Miami, Davidson,
(or Hawai'i) New Mexico State)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Murray State, @Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, @Belmont) and 1 loss (Tennessee State)

The Blue Raiders have combined matchups with quality regional rivals (Belmont, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Auburn), a home-and-home with ASUN power FGCU, and a trip to a better-than-you-think Diamond Head Classic into one of the top mid-major schedules in the entire country. It’s a little disappointing that Kermit Davis’s squad will play 2017 Ivy champ Princeton in the quarterfinals in Honolulu, as only the winner will likely earn a semifinal matchup with USC, who the Tigers will already meet in L.A. on the way to Hawai’i. Remember that Middle has recent wins over all three SEC teams on this slate—the Blue Raiders defeated both the Rebels and Commodores last season and the Tigers in 2015.

132. Marshall Thundering Herd

*Exempt Event: Global Sports Invitational

True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (8) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
UT Martin (227)* None None None Morehead State (162)
Southern (284)* Illinois (71)*
North Carolina Central (182)* William & Mary (113)
Concord (Non-D1) Toledo (114)
Akron (93) Xavier (25)
Chattanooga (124)
Ohio (127)
Eastern Kentucky (217)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (North Carolina Central, Ohio, Toledo) and 3 losses (@Eastern Kentucky, @Chattanooga, @Akron)

The Thundering Herd fell to Middle Tennessee in the C-USA final, a result that extended Marshall’s NCAA drought to 30 years. Dan D’Antoni’s squad will see several familiar faces as it attempts to better last season’s total of 20 wins, as nearly half of the Herd’s 13 non-league foes return from last season. The most prominent newcomers are Illinois, which anchors Marshall’s round-robin exempt event, and Xavier, who will be the Herd’s final pre-C-USA road foe.

156. Old Dominion Monarchs

*Exempt Event: Gildan Charleston Classic

True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (4) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3-4) Semi-Road Games (0-1) True Road Games (4)
Maryland Eastern Shore (315) None Temple (94)* Clemson (47) James Madison (173)
Richmond (80) Auburn (122) or (or Dayton, Ohio, VCU (35)
Towson (152) Indiana State (174)* Hofstra)* William & Mary (113)
Bowling Green (211) Dayton (40) or Fairfield (232)
Ohio (127) or
Hofstra (132)
(or Clemson)*
Norfolk State (261)
(Norfolk Scope)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (James Madison, @Richmond, @Towson) and 2 losses (VCU, William & Mary)

A C-USA quarterfinal loss to Marshall kept the Monarchs from their third consecutive 20-win season and from earning their first NCAA bid in Jeff Jones’s four seasons in charge. This fall, ODU will hope to find success against a schedule that will keep it close to home for almost the entirety of November and December. The two furthest trips will be to the Carolina Lowcountry for three games at the Charleston Classic and to Fairfield. However, of the Monarchs five games against former CAA rivals, three will take place on the road in 2017. One neat touch—Old Dominion will return to its former home arena, the Scope, for a matchup with crosstown rival Norfolk State. Even though this game is considered a home game for ODU, I’ve classified it as a neutral-site one, since the Spartans regularly play in the arena, particularly during MEAC Tournaments.

157. Rice Owls

*Exempt Event: MGM Resorts Main Event (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (1) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (5)
Eastern Kentucky (217)* None Utah (24) or UNLV (154)* Northwestern State (294)
Georgia State (117)* Ole Miss (63)* UT Arlington (109)
St. Thomas (Texas) (Non-D1) Stephen F. Austin (99)
UTRGV (335) Texas Tech (58)
St. Edward's (Non-D1) New Mexico (105)
Texas State (208)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 4 wins (Stephen F. Austin, St. Edward’s, Northwestern State, St. Thomas (Texas)) and 1 loss (@Texas Tech)

Mike Rhoades replaced Will Wade at VCU following Rice’s 23-win 2016-17 campaign that ended in the second round of the CBI. So it’s now up to Scott Pera to end the Owls’ time in the NCAA wilderness—which dates back to 1970. The highlights of this slate include a pair of games in Las Vegas for the MGM Resorts Main Event, and five tricky road games.

174. UTSA Roadrunners

*Exempt Event: Islands Of The Bahamas Showcase

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
East Central (Okla.)* (Non-D1) None Coastal Carolina (180)* None Texas State (208)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (200) Vermont (89) or Tulsa (87)
Ottawa (Ariz.) (Non-D1) Bradley (270)* Utah Valley (254)
Houston Baptist (282) Iona (98) or Oklahoma (23)
Bethany (Kan.) (Non-D1) James Madison (173) or Nebraska (88)
Weber State (177) or
Northern Kentucky (222)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Texas State, Utah Valley, East Central) and 2 losses (@Utah Valley, @Texas A&M-Corpus Christi)

In Steve Henson’s first season, the Roadrunners nearly tripled their win total from Brooks Thompson’s final campaign—jumping from five to 14. And with five home games alone this fall—and three against teams from outside of Division I—UTSA should equal its non-conference win total of a season ago. However, three games at the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase and Power 7 road contests at Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Nebraskas might limit the Runners’ chances at improving it.

199. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

*Exempt Event: Sanford Pentagon Showcase

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (4)
Southern-New Orleans (Non-D1) None Northern Colorado (295)* South Dakota (191)* Michigan (27)
Blue Mountain (Non-D1)* Youngstown State (278)* South Alabama (263)
Rust (Non-D1) Mississippi State (101) Alabama A&M (344)
Troy (228) (Jackson, Miss.) Florida State (36)
William Carey (Non-D1)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Alabama A&M), and 3 losses (South Alabama, @Florida State, Mississippi State (N))

In three seasons of attempting to clean up the mess Donnie Tyndall left in Hattiesburg, Doc Sadler has yet to post double-digit wins. But with five home games—four against teams from outside of D1—and a pair of winnable contests at the Sanford Pentagon Showcase, the Golden Eagles should be able to put themselves well on their way to changing that. Honestly, the only games on this schedule that Southern Miss. should fear are the three power conference matchups, including the matchup with Mississippi State in the state capital, and the Pentagon Showcase matchup with a South Dakota squad playing in its home state.

204. UTEP Miners

*Exempt Event: Puerto Rico Tip-Off

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)
Louisiana College (Non-D1) None Boise State (77)* South Carolina (45) New Mexico State (86)
Lamar (299) Illinois State (70) (or Illinois State)*
New Mexico State (86) (or South Carolina)*
New Mexico (105) Iowa State (14) or
Washington State (183) Tulsa (87) or
Incarnate Word (271) Western Michigan (155)
Howard (333) Appalachian State (286)*
UNCW (91) or
North Dakota State (134)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Louisiana College) and 1 loss (New Mexico, New Mexico State, @New Mexico State)

UTEP won 15 games a season ago, catching fire after an 12-game losing streak that included defeats in the Miners’ final nine non-conference games. Imagine what Tim Floyd’s team could have done had they not bumbled their way through the late fall and early winter. This time around, UTEP had better bring its ‘A’ game early, as it will be tested at the relocated Puerto Rico Tip-Off over the second weekend of the season, starting with a quarterfinal against a talented Boise State squad. Otherwise, it’s a home-heavy slate, highlighted by visits from Washington State and a matchup against either UNCW or North Dakota State on night two of the Sun Bowl Classic. Note that the Miners’ only true road game is the Las Cruces leg of the traditional home-and-home with New Mexico State.

217. Charlotte 49ers

Exempt Event: None

True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
True Home Games (6) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (5)
Methodist (Non-D1) None None None Oklahoma State (32)
College of Charleston (133) James Madison (173)
Presbyterian (349) Chattanooga (124)
High Point (207) East Carolina (198)
Davidson (78) USF (267)
Wake Forest (66)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (East Carolina, James Madison) and 2 losses (@Davidson, @Wake Forest)

The 49ers, who have yet to post a winning record in Mark Price’s two seasons in charge, are the lone C-USA team foregoing an exempt event this year. But that doesn’t mean Charlotte won’t be challenged, as College of Charleston, archrival Davidson and Wake Forest visit Halton Arena and the Niners travel to Oklahoma State. Plus, the 49ers will get to play two of the American Athletic Conference’s lesser lights—East Carolina and USF—as part of their travels.

221. North Texas Mean Green

*Exempt Event: Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (0) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (6)
Eureka (Non-D1) None None None Nebraska (88)
Bethune Cookman (337)* Georgia Tech (73)*
UTRGV (335)* Oklahoma (23)
Rogers State (Non-D1) UT Arlington (109)
Grambling State (350)* San Diego (221)
Indiana State (174) Georgetown (52)
McNeese State (321)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 0 wins and 2 losses (UT Arlington, San Diego)

The Mean Green won just eight times in Tony Benford’s final season, and former Arkansas State boss Grant McCasland might approach that total in his first home non-conference slate alone. That’s due in part to three home contests against teams ranked in Division I’s bottom 20, thanks to UNT’s participation in Georgia Tech‘s exempt event. However, the six road games—highlighted by trips to Atlanta for the Ramblin Wreck Showcase’s marquee game, Oklahoma, Metroplex neighbors UT Arlington, and Nebraska —make it likely that the Mean Green will need to win at least once or twice in C-USA play to surpass 2017’s victory haul.

246. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

*Exempt Event: Cancun Challenge (Hosts’ Bracket)

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (2) True Neutral-Site Games (2) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
UT Tyler (Non-D1) Alabama State (327) George Mason (157)* None Alabama (59)
Southeast Missouri (285)* (New Orleans) Fresno State (116) or Texas (39)
Montana State (276)* Fort Wayne (141) or Evansville (120)*
Miles (Non-D1) Liberty (289)
Stephen F. Austin (99) (New Orleans)
Jackson State (310)
Louisiana (123)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 1 win (Alabama State) and 1 loss (@Louisiana)

Eric Konkol has posted a pair of 23-win seasons since replacing current Florida head coach Mike White, but like his predecessor, he’s yet to make it to the NCAAs. To get to their first March Madness since 1991, the Bulldogs will need to win the C-USA Tournament. aAnon-conference slate highlighted by trips to Alabama and Texas and a pair of mid-major-focused bracketed tournaments won’t do much more than offer Louisiana Tech the opportunity to post nine or 10 non-conference wins. That will likely leave the Bulldogs without the multiple marquee victories a mid-major needs to attract the Selection Committee’s attention these days.

252. FAU Owls

*Exempt Event: Gulf Coast Showcase

True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
True Home Games (5) Semi-Home Games (0) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (4)
Edward Waters (Non-D1) None Towson (152)* None USF (267)
Ave Maria (Non-D1)* Northern Illinois (184) or FGCU (146)
Bethune-Cookman (337) Penn (230)* Texas Tech (58)
Webber International (Non-D1) Missouri State (188) or Minnesota (64)
Arkansas State (204) Georgia Southern (189) or
Manhattan (233) or
UMKC (251)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 3 wins (Edward Waters, USF, Webber International), and 1 loss (FGCU)

Michael Curry’s Owls won 10 games in his third season, highlighted by non-conference victories over USF and Ohio State, with that latter result leading many of us to suspect Thad Matta’s days in Columbus were numbered. However, FAU has only tasted victory 27 times during Curry’s three years in Boca Raton, so you have to wonder how much more time he will get. This schedule, which features three non-D1 games and just two games outside of the state of Florida, should give FAU hope of noticeable improvement.

Note that I am not counting FAU’s Gulf Coast Showcase games as semi-home as Fort Myers is across the state from Boca Raton and I’m not expecting there to be a huge travel party for a 10-win team.

293. UAB Blazers

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) Semi-Road Games (0) True Road Games (2)
Jacksonville (306) Alabama A&M (344) Richmond (80)* None Troy (228)
Chattanooga (124)* (Legacy Arena) Cincinnati (20) or Auburn (122)
LeMoyne-Owen (Non-D1) Buffalo (104)*
Mississippi College (Non-D1) Iowa (33) or
Memphis (79) South Dakota State (119) or
New Orleans (273) Louisiana (123) or
Mississippi Valley State (347) Wyoming (131)*

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Troy, Alabama A&M) and 2 losses (Auburn, @Memphis)

The Blazers will play all but three games in the state of Alabama this November and December—and the exceptions are significant, as UAB will travel for a trio of games at the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic. But other than the trip to the Caribbean and true road games against Auburn and defending Sun Belt Tournament champ Troy, there’s nothing too onerous here. So, UAB should improve upon last year’s total 17 wins.

336. FIU Panthers

*Exempt Event: Black And Gold Shootout

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)
Florida Memorial (Non-D1)* None Elon (170)* None Milwaukee (194)*
Stetson (325) Concordia-St. Paul (Non-D1)* USF (267)
South Carolina (45) North Florida (209)
Florida National (Non-D1)
South Alabama (263)
James Madison (173)
FGCU (146)
Hartford (324)

Record against returning opponents from 2016-17: 2 wins (Florida Memorial, North Florida) and 3 losses (@Stetson, @South Carolina, @FGCU)

The Panthers were among the last teams to release a 2017-18 schedule, delaying this series’ publication date. And other than a visit from Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks, there’s nothing really earth shattering on FIU’s slate. But that’s probably for the best considering Anthony Evans’s squad won just seven a season ago, a drop of six games from 2015-16. Note that the Panthers will play a pair of non-D1 teams as part of Milwaukee‘s exempt round-robin, including one in Wisconsin.

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