clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ranking the ACC’s Non-Conference Schedules for 2018-19

The ACC offers up one great example of non-conference scheduling this year and several more that need a significant amount of work.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament Championship-Virginia vs North Carolina Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2018-19 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Warning: Graphics and tables may not appear optimally when viewing on a mobile device.

Ranking The Teams

Even though Louisville dropped out of the four-year ranking’s top 10 thanks to a tumultuous 2017-18 season, the ACC now has an unparalleled three teams—Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina—in the top five nationally. While 10 teams remain in the top 50, the number of top 100 teams declined to 13 from 14, thanks to Pitt’s horrible 2017-18 leading the Panthers to drop a whopping 56 spots in the ranking. On the flip side, Boston College’s 29-place improvement means every ACC team finds itself among the top 150 this season.

Four-Year Rankings

Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Team Team Score 4-Year Ranking 2017-18 Ranking
Virginia 14.887375 2 2
Duke 13.26233 4 9
North Carolina 13.199215 5 6
Louisville 10.77609 14 8
Notre Dame 9.326875 20 21
Miami (Fla.) 8.68698 23 29
Florida State 8.305673 26 36
Clemson 8.216254 29 47
Syracuse 7.07599 46 38
Virginia Tech 6.6390615 49 75
N.C. State 5.658511 59 67
Wake Forest 4.868655 69 66
Georgia Tech 3.8851555 85 73
Pittsburgh 2.3850835 109 53
Boston College 1.8699133 121 160
Average 7.936210787 44.06666667 46
Conference Rank 2nd of 32 (2nd in 2017-18)

KenPom Gaps For 2018-19

Rank Team 2018-19 Four-Year Ranking 2018-19 KP Preseason Rank Gap
Rank Team 2018-19 Four-Year Ranking 2018-19 KP Preseason Rank Gap
33 Boston College 121 66 55
60 Syracuse 46 8 38
83 Virginia Tech 49 22 27
91 N.C. State 59 36 23
114 Clemson 29 14 15
124 Florida State 26 15 11
149 Duke 4 2 2
150 North Carolina 5 3 2
152 Miami (Fla.) 23 21 2
171 Virginia 2 4 -2
201 Georgia Tech 85 92 -7
250 Wake Forest 69 91 -22
284 Pittsburgh 109 139 -30
301 Notre Dame 20 59 -39
314 Louisville 14 63 -49

The Eagles could see their position improve even more in next season’s four-year ranking if their performance meets or exceeds the 55-spot improvement KenPom’s 2018-19 preseason projection foresees when compared to the four-year ranking. Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and N.C. State are all projected to rank 20 or more spots higher, while Wake, Pitt, Notre Dame, and Louisville are all looking at struggling considerably more than in recent history. For the Demon Deacons and Panthers, that could mean another season out of the NCAAs or NIT, while another March on the bubble could await the Fighting Irish and Cardinals.

Ranking The Schedules

For the second season in a row, the ACC ranks in the bottom quartile as a conference in terms of its known schedule strength. However, the strength of the fields conference’s members will encounter in the later rounds of bracketed tournaments once again lift the ACC’s average and maximum schedule rankings into the top half of Division I. But if these teams struggle in these events, they’re likely to face far weaker opposition, which drives the minimum schedule ranking outside of the top 20.

While UNC, Duke, and Louisville all have top 40 schedules according to the super average of the three variable categories, six conference members rank outside of the top 250, with BC ranking exactly 250th. Three of those teams, including at-large possibilities Miami and Virginia Tech, have bottom 50 non-conference slates.

Note: The number of asterisks (*) represent the number of pending games on a team’s schedule.

Schedule Rankings

Super Avg. Rank Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
Super Avg. Rank Team Known Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Average Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Maximum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank Minimum Schedule Strength Natl. Rank
12 North Carolina* 5.541418583 15 6.249571 12 6.445156577 16 6.053985423 9
31 Duke** 3.578279241 85 4.941686588 32 5.683315896 23 4.090157358 49
37 Louisville* 3.837609638 70 4.646119454 40 5.008521588 42 4.283717319 42
59 Virginia** 2.878405095 114 4.228848775 56 4.817694663 49 3.464840825 79
122 Syracuse* 2.309573654 142 2.845800681 121 2.961082892 134 2.730518469 113
140 Florida State** 1.705690398 180 2.344006372 148 3.290443856 113 1.62956414 175
207 Clemson** 0.3188263336 267 1.41179859 210 1.93154559 187 0.9416467246 221
220 Notre Dame 1.132110395 211 1.132110395 222 1.132110395 231 1.132110395 208
250 Boston College* 0.3385258792 264 0.6687862423 249 0.7639808115 254 0.5735916731 251
257 Wake Forest** -0.3081907125 291 0.3900471563 269 1.499632531 214 -0.2086821563 289
271 Georgia Tech 0.3814265604 261 0.3814265604 270 0.3814265604 276 0.3814265604 263
280 N.C. State 0.1259585412 272 0.1259585412 281 0.1259585412 283 0.1259585412 270
305 Pittsburgh -0.59111705 298 -0.59111705 305 -0.59111705 310 -0.59111705 300
311 Miami (Fla.)** -2.036907579 345 -0.6375914432 307 -0.06205273229 291 -1.302755701 335
338 Virginia Tech** -3.675199383 350 -1.691275468 343 -0.7678837775 318 -3.016392378 349
189.33 Average 1.03576064 211 1.763078426 191 2.174654423 182.73 1.352571343 196.87
18/32 Conference Rank 27 of 32 16 of 32 13 of 32 22 of 32

Who Over- And Under-Scheduled?

With three top five teams, it would not have been surprising for the ACC to have a few teams who under-schedule this season. However, every single conference members—all 15—did so. Miami and Virginia Tech lead the way, though 2018 NCAA team N.C. State joins those two teams in under-scheduling by more than 200 places and NIT qualifier Notre Dame under-did things by 199 spots.

North Carolina, Louisville, and Duke all managed to only under-schedule themselves by 27 or fewer spots.

Scheduling Gaps

National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
National Rank Team Four-Year Ranking Super Average Ranking Scheduling Gap
23 North Carolina 5 12 -7
64 Louisville 14 37 -23
71 Duke 4 31 -27
131 Virginia 2 59 -57
175 Syracuse 46 122 -76
244 Florida State 26 140 -114
264 Boston College 121 249 -128
303 Clemson 29 206 -177
308 Georgia Tech 85 270 -185
312 Wake Forest 69 256 -187
319 Pittsburgh 109 304 -195
321 Notre Dame 20 219 -199
330 N.C. State 59 279 -220
346 Miami (Fla.) 23 310 -287
347 Virginia Tech 49 336 -287
214.0666667 Average (28/32 conf.) 40.8 166.2666667 -125.4666667

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
23 4 0

After leading the Power 7 by playing 29 true road non-conference games a season ago, the ACC’s total of 23 for 2018-19 drops it behind the Pac-12 this season (and into a tie with the SEC for second). The decline in non-Power 7 road contests was more precipitous, falling from 10 to four, knocking the conference from a tie for second with the American a season ago into a three-way tie for fourth with the Big 12 and Big Ten.

Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Big Ten 17 6
SEC 15 5
A 10 13 4
MEAC 12 0
Big South 10 0
Southland 10 0
Atlantic Sun 8 0
Ivy 8 0
Big East 7 6
NEC 7 0
SoCon 7 0
CAA 6 2
MAAC 6 2
C-USA 5 1
America East 5 0
MAC 5 0
Big 12 4 5
American Athletic 4 3
Horizon 4 0
Patriot 4 0
Pac-12 3 5
Sun Belt 3 2
MW 2 2
WAC 2 1
OVC 2 0
SWAC 2 0
WCC 1 1
Big Sky 1 0
MVC 0 3
Big West 0 2
Non-D1 0 0
Summit 0 0

As usual, the ACC’s conference challenge partner, the Big Ten, leads this table, though the conferences have scheduled two fewer games against each other this season than in 2017-18. The SEC and Big South have jumped into the top five, replacing the Southern and Northeast conferences. A season ago, ACC members scheduled games against every other Division I league, but this time around three—the Missouri Valley, Big West, and Summit—are missing. However, ACC squads could meet teams from the first two of those leagues listed in the later rounds of exempt tournaments.

Two SEC squads, Kentucky and Tennessee, and two lowly-ranked mid-majors, Gardner-Webb and Maryland Eastern Shore, appear on three separate ACC schedules each. Conversely, Wake Forest will play three Atlantic 10 teams, while Virginia Tech scheduled a trio of MEAC foes.

Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 5 17 8 30 2 20
Quad 2 10 1 8 19 1.266666667 17
Quad 3 24 5 8 37 2.466666667 11
Quad 4 84 0 2 86 5.733333333 2
Non-D1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 123 23 26 172
Average 8.2 1.533333333 1.733333333 11.46666667
Percentage 0.7151162791 0.1337209302 0.1511627907
Q1 1-30 1-75 1-50
Q2 31-75 76-135 51-100
Q3 76-160 136-240 101-200
Q4 161-353 241-353 201-353

Not only will ACC members play nearly 72% of their non-conference games at home this season, nearly two-thirds of those contests will come against teams falling within Quad 4, at least based on the four-year rankings. While 17 of the 23 non-league road games qualify for Quad 1 status, just 12 of those will come against teams in the top 50 of the four-year table.

There’s remarkable balance in the ACC’s scheduled neutral-site games this year, with eight falling under each of the top three Quads (top 50, second 50, and second 100), but the majority of the potential matchups in exempt events will feature teams from the top 100.

Team-By-Team Breakdown

Teams are listed in order of their Super Average Schedule Ranking. The number in front of an opponent name is its Four-Year Ranking. Logos via SportsLogos.net, except for Georgia Tech (RamblinWreck.com).

12. North Carolina Tar Heels

*Exempt Event: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (3)
79. Stanford 43. Texas* 151. Wofford
230. Tennessee Tech* 10. Michigan State or 198. Elon
253. St. Francis (Pa.)* 31. UCLA* 17. Michigan^
139. UNCW 7. Kentucky # ^ - B1G Challenge
3. Gonzaga # - Chicago
60. Davidson
130. Harvard

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (@Stanford, Michigan, Davidson (N), Wofford) and 1 loss (Michigan State (N))

The Tar Heels play three true road games this season, like Georgia Tech. However, unlike the Yellow Jackets, two of UNC’s contests will come in relatively new mid-major arenas—Wofford‘s, which opened last season (and remember that the Terriers won in Chapel Hill last December), and Elon‘s, which debuts this November. Those challenges are just a small part of a slate that will test Roy Williams’ squad early and often, thanks to the presence of five Power 7 games, with only the one against Stanford coming at the Smith Center, a visit from Gonzaga, a member of the Power 7 in all but name, and contests against Davidson and Harvard at the Dean Dome. Even the Las Vegas Invitational home game against St. Francis (Pa.) features a team favored to win its conference this season. This is the type of schedule more power conference teams should attempt to build.

31. Duke Blue Devils

*Exempt Event: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (5)
True Home Games (8) True Neutral-Site Games (5)
265. Army West Point 7. Kentucky #
147. Eastern Michigan* 54. San Diego State*
44. Indiana^ 18. Xavier or
319. Stetson 64. Auburn*
302. Hartford 3. Gonzaga/
136. Yale 13. Arizona/
105. Princeton 33. Iowa State/
93. St. John's 81. Illinois*
^ - B1G Challenge 30. Texas Tech $
# - Indianapolis
$ - New York

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (@Indiana) and 1 loss (@St. John’s)

For the third time in four seasons, the Blue Devils won’t play a true non-conference road game (no, I’m not counting the December 2016 game played near, but not on UNLV‘s campus). Instead, Mike Krzyzewski’s squad will play eight contests at Cameron Indoor—two of which are return matchups from a season ago—and a fairly daunting set of neutral-site games—Kentucky in Indianapolis on Opening Night, Texas Tech in New York in December, and three at a loaded Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Naturally, this type of schedule is designed to prepare Duke for the neutral-site contests of March, but it would be nice to see the Blue Devils challenge themselves in a truly hostile road environment before ACC play.

37. Louisville Cardinals

*Exempt Event: NIT Season Tip-Off

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (2)
287. Nicholls State 42. Tennessee* 37. Seton Hall
313. Southern* 6. Kansas or 44. Indiana
78. Vermont* 53. Marquette*
10. Michigan State^
301. Central Arkansas
193. Lipscomb
176. Kent State
272. Robert Morris
7. Kentucky
^ - B1G Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Indiana) and 2 losses (Seton Hall, @Kentucky)

Chris Mack’s first Cardinal schedule, featuring home games against Michigan State and Kentucky (and Lipscomb and Vermont, for that matter), a daunting pair of games at the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, and dangerous trips to Seton Hall and Indiana, should put Louisville in good position, regardless of the results. And they’ll probably need the metrics boost with another season on the bubble likely.

59. Virginia Cavaliers

*Exempt Event: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
152. Towson 62. Middle Tennessee* 32. Maryland^
128. George Washington 21. Butler or 51. South Carolina
347. Coppin State* 77. Dayton* ^ - B1G Challenge
327. Morgan State 16. Florida/
67. VCU 22. Wisconsin/
132. William & Mary 27. Oklahoma/
145. Marshall 79. Stanford*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@VCU, Wisconsin) and 0 losses

While people remember how the Cavaliers’ 2017-18 season ended, they likely forgot that Virginia won 31 games last year, with an 11-1 non-conference mark getting Tony Bennett’s team well on its way to a No. 1 seed. To equal (or better) that hot start, Virginia is going to have to navigate its way through the Battle 4 Atlantis (though the Cavaliers are on what I consider to be the far easier half of the bracket) and take out a pair of former league rivals—Maryland and (more distantly) South Carolina—in road games. And those three final home non-league games featuring quality local rivals might put an eerie scare into fans at John Paul Jones Arena in December.

122. Syracuse Orange

*Exempt Event: 2K Empire Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project

True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (1)
158. Eastern Washington* 25. Oregon or 92. UConn* 35. Ohio State^
213. Morehead State* 56. Iowa* ^ - B1G Challenge
240. Colgate
273. Cornell
116. Northeastern
68. Georgetown
83. Old Dominion
89. Buffalo
234. Arkansas State
74. St. Bonaventure

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 5 wins (Cornell, UConn (N), Colgate, @Georgetown, Buffalo) and 1 loss (St. Bonaventure)

Jim Boeheim is a man who knows what he likes and who also really doesn’t care what you think about that. In recent seasons, he’s gotten to a comfortable place when it comes to non-conference scheduling and that template is evident this season. Yes, there’s just the one true road game, with last year’s matchup with Georgetown (who visit the Carrier Dome this season) swapped for the biennial Big Ten Challenge road game (Ohio State). There’s an exempt event that doubles as a trip to Madison Square Garden so the Orange’s copious New York City fanbase will get a chance to cheer their team on. Then there’s a home slate that features some local flavor and several quality mid-majors—with a pair of conference favorites in Buffalo and Northeastern, bogeymen St. Bonaventure, and C-USA contender Old Dominion highlighting this season’s lineup. Syracuse’s 2018-19 slate isn’t a top-flight one, but like last year’s, it should keep the Orange in the at-large hunt all the way until the Selection Show.

140. Florida State Seminoles

*Exempt Event: AdvoCare Invitational

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (4) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (4) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
16. Florida 135. UAB* 92. UConn # 194. Tulane
165. Canisius* 80. LSU or # - Newark, N.J.
8. Purdue^ 117. College of Charleston*
191. Troy 1. Villanova/
252. Southeastern Louisiana 38. Oklahoma State/
241. North Florida 104. Memphis/
148. Winthrop 165. Canisius*
^ - B1G Challenge 210. Saint Louis $
$ - Sunrise, Fla.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@Florida, Tulane (N))

The Seminoles, an Elite Eight squad last March, will only leave the state of Florida twice before the start of conference play—for a pair of games against American Athletic Conference members UConn (in the Never Forget Tribute Classic) and Tulane. And those two squads shouldn’t trouble FSU all that much, much like the majority of the home schedule. But there are some quality matchups here. Florida, a squad the Noles have dominated of late, will test FSU right out of the gate, while the visit from the Purdue will be one of the more anticipated matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. In between, the Seminoles could meet Villanova in the final of the AdvoCare Invitational (an event FSU won in its only previous appearance, back in 2009. Then, as the holidays approach, a tricky matchup with A 10 favorite Saint Louis awaits in South Florida at the Orange Bowl Classic.

207. Clemson Tigers

*Exempt Event: Cayman Islands Classic

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (4) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (4) Semi-Road Games (1) True Road Games (1)
16. Florida 135. UAB* 92. UConn # 194. Tulane
165. Canisius* 80. LSU or # - Newark, N.J.
8. Purdue^ 117. College of Charleston*
191. Troy 1. Villanova/
252. Southeastern Louisiana 38. Oklahoma State/
241. North Florida 104. Memphis/
148. Winthrop 165. Canisius*
^ - B1G Challenge 210. Saint Louis $
$ - Sunrise, Fla.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (South Carolina) and 0 losses

After last season’s run to the Sweet Sixteen, expectations are high for Brad Brownell’s Tigers. Still, despite the presence of three 2018 NCAA qualifiers and Big Ten at-large contender Nebraska on Clemson’s home slate, the Tigers will need to prove themselves on the road to pick up multiple non-conference victories over possible NCAA squads. It would be a surprise if Clemson failed to reach the final of this season’s Cayman Islands Classic, while a pair of SEC teams—Mississippi State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in New Jersey in December and in-state rival South Carolina—will provide nice tests heading into the grind of ACC play.

220. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

*Exempt Event: Gotham Classic

True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (1)
270. UIC* 27. Oklahoma # 31. UCLA
346. Chicago State 8. Purdue $
220. Radford* # - New York
132. William & Mary* $ - Indianapolis
199. Duquesne*
144. DePaul
81. Illinois^
321. Binghamton
310. Jacksonville
347. Coppin State
^ - B1G Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (@DePaul, Chicago State) and 0 losses

Last season, the Fighting Irish’s non-conference results boiled down to a Maui Jim Maui Invitational title and losses in both the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (at Michigan State) and Crossroads Classic (to Indiana). That wasn’t enough to boost Notre Dame when they went 8-10 in ACC play. This time around, there’s a trip to New York to play Oklahoma in the Jimmy V Classic (but not Duquesne in the Gotham Classic, that game will be in South Bend), a true road game at UCLA, Purdue in the Crossroads Classic, and Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Purcell Pavilion. And with the Sooners and Fighting Illini major question marks heading into the season, it’s likely that Mike Brey’s team will have to make real noise in the ACC to be an at-large threat this time, even if they pick up wins over the Boilermakers and Bruins.

250. Boston College Eagles

*Exempt Event: Fort Myers Tip-Off

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (2)
201. Milwaukee 129. Wyoming* 34. Texas A&M
325. St. Francis-Brooklyn* 82. Loyola Chicago or 144. DePaul
259. IUPUI* 113. Richmond*
84. Minnesota^
306. Sacred Heart
50. Providence
200. Columbia
215. Fairfield
302. Hartford
^ - B1G Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 4 wins (Sacred Heart, @Hartford, Columbia, Richmond) and 1 loss (@Providence)

The Eagles got themselves to the fringe of the bubble by mid-February before four losses in their final five games damaged their ACC standing and dropped them to the NIT. Jim Christian has built a schedule that honestly needed a little more to prepare BC for a more realistic at-large push this season. The Eagles will need to take advantage of the road game at Texas A&M and meet (and likely) defeat Loyola Chicago in the final in Fort Myers to have a quality non-conference win on the profile, though a pair of teams that visit the Conte Forum—Minnesota and Providence—could fit the bill when all is said and done.

257. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

*Exempt Event: Myrtle Beach Invitational

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (2)
342. N.C. A&T 111. Saint Joseph's* 113. Richmond
305. Houston Baptist 115. UCF or 42. Tennessee
296. Western Carolina 225. Cal State Fullerton*
266. Charlotte 9. West Virginia/
60. Davidson 90. Valparaiso/
229. Gardner-Webb 120. Monmouth/
273. Cornell 127. WKU*

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (Richmond, @Charlotte) and 1 loss (Tennessee)

The Demon Deacons followed a 19-win 2016-17 campaign that ended in the First Four with a clunker of a 2017-18 that barely got to 11 wins. Danny Manning’s squad is likely to repeat last season’s indifferent 7-5 non-conference record, thanks to six winnable home games (Davidson has the tools to knock Wake off in Winston-Salem), trips to Richmond Spiders and Tennessee, and three games at a Myrtle Beach Invitational that’s not going to be easy for a lower-tier ACC squad.

271. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

*Exempt Event: Deep South Showcase

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (3)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (1) True Road Games (3)
258. Lamar* 93. St. John's # 42. Tennessee
242. East Carolina* # - Miami 63. Northwestern^
318. UTRGV* 40. Arkansas
311. Prairie View A&M* ^ - B1G Challenge
350. Florida A&M
229. Gardner-Webb
57. Georgia
300. Kennesaw State
314. USC Upstate

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (UTRGV, Northwestern, Florida A&M) and 2 losses (Tennessee, @Georgia)

The Yellow Jackets, coming off a 13-19 campaign, have one of the more befuddling non-conference slates you’ll see this season. On one hand, there are nine home games, eight of which feature opposition ranked outside of the top 200 of the four-year ranking, with five of those teams ranked 300th or worse. Then there are the five Power 7 games, three of which are on the road. Look for Josh Pastner’s team to equal or better last season’s 7-6 non-league mark before struggling through ACC play again.

280. N.C. State Wolfpack

*Exempt Event: Wolfpack Classic

True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (10) True Neutral-Site Games (2) True Road Games (1)
238. Mount St. Mary's 47. Vanderbilt* # 22. Wisconsin^
339. Maryland Eastern Shore* 65. Penn State $ ^ - B1G Challenge
155. UNC Asheville # - Miami
340. Maine* $ - Atlantic City, N.J.
183. Saint Peter's*
154. Mercer*
296. Western Carolina
64. Auburn
314. USC Upstate
304. Loyola (Md.)

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: N/A

Kevin Keatts’ first Wolfpack squad rode a non-conference schedule similar to this one—and an 11-7 ACC record to a 9 seed last March. Naturally, the four Power 7 matchups, three away from Raleigh, are the most important contests here. The majority of the home schedule, however, will only create headlines if State is upset by one of the nine squads ranked outside of the four-year ranking’s top 150.

305. Pittsburgh Panthers

*Exempt Event: Barclays Center Classic

True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (20 True Road Games (2)
True Home Games (9) True Neutral-Site Games (20 True Road Games (2)
308. Youngstown State 210. Saint Louis* 56. Iowa^
331. VMI 199. Duquesne # 9. West Virginia
191. Troy* # - PPG Paints Arena ^ - B1G Challenge
301. Central Arkansas*
(Transitional) North Alabama*
267. Niagara
339. Maryland Eastern Shore
269. New Orleans
240. Colgate

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 1 win (Duquesne (N)) and 1 loss (West Virginia)

Jeff Capel will attempt to turn around a Panther squad that crashed to an 8-24 finish in the final season of Kevin Stallings’ disastrous tenure in the Steel City. And while Pitt should exceed last year’s win total before ACC play arrives thanks to the Charmin-soft home schedule, all four games away from the Petersen Events Center could result in losses. The trip to West Virginia for the return game of the Backyard Brawl series might need to come with a warning label.

311. Miami Hurricanes

*Exempt Event: Wooden Legacy

True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) Semi-Home Games (1) True Neutral-Site Games (3) True Road Games (1)
188. Lehigh 136. Yale # 166. La Salle* 178. Penn
107. Stephen F. Austin # - AmericanAirlines Arena 63. Northwestern or
328. Bethune-Cookman 88. Fresno State*
167. Rutgers^ 36. Utah/
305. Houston Baptist 37. Seton Hall/
278. FAU 140. Grand Canyon/
283. Campbell 179. Hawai'i*
^ - B1G Challenge

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 2 wins (La Salle (N), @Hawai’i) and 0 losses

With Rutgers the Hurricanes’ assigned opponent in the Big Ten Challenge this season, Jim Larrañaga’s squad likely won’t encounter all that many difficulties before ACC play. The most dangerous matchups here appear to be in the later rounds of the Wooden Legacy (Northwestern, followed by Utah or Seton Hall is the path Miami wants) and a pair of contests against Ivy League contenders—defending champ Penn at the Palestra and Yale in the Canes’ backyard. But in total, this isn’t the slate a team knocked out in the First Round of the NCAAs last March needed.

338. Virginia Tech Hokies

*Exempt Event: Charleston Classic

True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (1)
True Home Games (7) True Neutral-Site Games (4) True Road Games (1)
229. Gardner-Webb 172. Ball State* 65. Penn State^
253. St. Francis (Pa.) 55. Alabama or ^ - B1G Challenge
341. Central Connecticut State 116. Northeastern*
331. VMI 8. Purdue/
338. South Carolina State 12. Wichita State/
342. N.C. A&T 60. Davidson/
339. Maryland Eastern Shore 255. Appalachian State*
100. Washington #
# - Atlantic City, N.J.

Record against returning opponents from 2017-18: 3 wins (Washington (N), Maryland Eastern Shore, N.C. A&T) and 0 losses

With five of the Hokies’ seven home opponents ranked in the bottom 20 of the four-year ranking and the other two foes outside of the top 200, the Hokies will need to rely on their five games away from Blacksburg to build a profile before ACC play. Defeating Ball State in the Charleston Classic quarterfinals is job no. 1 for Virginia Tech. While both day two opponents are quality foes, there’s a big difference between playing Purdue, Wichita State, or Davidson and Appalachian State on day three. Later, the Big Ten Challenge matchup with Penn State and the game in Atlantic City with Washington could be vital if these teams join the Hokies on the bubble in February and March.

Be sure to follow @ChrisDobbertean on Twitter and to like Blogging the Bracket on Facebook.