2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule Rankings
As usual, defending A 10 Tournament champ Davidson will challenge itself during November and December, as will VCU and Saint Joe’s. But while preseason favorite Saint Louis built a decent slate, George Mason didn’t really prepare itself for a title (or at-large) challenge.
Stop the presses! The Big Ten didn’t do a horrible job of scheduling for November and December this season.
It’s almost time for tip-off! That means it’s time to talk non-conference scheduling. But before we get into team specifics, a bit of background on the numbers and metrics you’ll encounter.
The majority of the league’s coaches aren’t taking kindly to the "football league" epithet being thrown their way and are showing their displeasure by beefing up their non-conference scheduling.
Buffalo won a game in the NCAAs last March and are expected to build on that this season. But do the Bulls have the best non-league schedule in the MAC?
While the defending champs from College of Charleston will challenge Northeastern for the 2019 crown, the Huskies enter the new season with a superior non-conference schedule.
In an upset, t’s defending champ Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis, not Long Beach State, who leads the Big West in non-league scheduling this season.
While Murray State represented the league in the NCAAs last March, it’s another familiar name, Belmont, that tops these rankings.
Radford, the league’s 2018 NCAA Tournament representative, has its best non-conference schedule by a considerable margin.
A combination of plenty of non-D1 home games and Power 7 road games mean this conference has several highly-rated schedules that could somehow be even better.
When looking at this season’s non-league slates, the Big East’s powers largely did what they needed to do, but the conference’s bottom-feeders could be left in the lurch come March if they improve as much as expected.
After exiting last March’s festivities, the conference is largely setting itself up for more disappointment this spring based on some of these schedules.
Naturally, Loyola struggled to put together a strong non-conference schedule following their run to the 2018 Final Four. And that means the Ramblers might just have to win Arch Madness again to reach 2019’s field of 68.
The Selection Committee hasn’t treated the Sun Belt champ all that well in recent seasons, but the conference is making some scheduling changes in the hopes of improving its March fortunes.
While Iona, which has represented the conference in the last three NCAA Tournaments, has a strong schedule, two league rivals have slates that outshine the Gaels’.
The two teams favored to challenge for the conference title this season didn’t do themselves many favors in the non-league schedule department.
2018 champ Lipscomb managed to put together top 10 non-league slate despite not participating in an exempt tournament this season.
One of the nation’s weaker conferences generally has a collection of non-league schedules to match. There’s one notable exception, however.
While Mike Davis departed for Detroit Mercy this offseason, Texas Southern continues to follow his scheduling philosophy. And that means the Tigers lead both the SWAC and the nation for the new season.
The ACC offers up one great example of non-conference scheduling this year and several more that need a significant amount of work.
Once again, the bottom of the league scheduled like it has no interest in pushing the league toward more consistent recognition as a power conference.
Gonzaga built a non-conference schedule worthy of a national title contender, but as for the other nine teams, improvement is needed in the majority of cases.
The defending champion UNCG Greensboro Spartans and 2017 champ ETSU Buccaneers both had trouble building quality non-conference slates this season, largely thanks to their recent successes.
While South Dakota State is chasing a third consecutive NCAA bid, the Jackrabbits might struggle to match last season’s 12 seed, thanks to a weak non-conference schedule.
The nation’s most unstable conference is quietly improving in men’s basketball, despite its near-constant struggles in building quality non-conference schedules.
Perennial Patriot champ Bucknell and Lehigh, the team most likely to topple them in 2019, have the league’s best non-conference slates. And it’s not particularly close.
Nine of the conference’s 10 teams have non-league slates that rank among the top 150 in the country—an impressive total for a power conference.
Fresh off March’s Sweet Sixteen run, big things are expected of Nevada in 2019. But how did the Wolf Pack do when building this season’s non-conference schedule? And what about the rest of the Mountain West?
Even with a new head coach, Middle Tennessee once again leads the way when it comes to C-USA scheduling, but both 2018 NCAA rep Marshall and Western Kentucky, an NIT semifinalist a season ago, built slates that could help push them into the at-large picture in 2019.
While 2018 champ Penn should challenge for the title again, the Quakers’ two expected primary rivals, Harvard and Yale, built better non-conference slates.
With the conference going to 20 league games, non-conference scheduling has suffered a bit. But defending champ Montana will still test itself during November and December.