It’s no secret that most of the league’s non-conference schedules this season are weak. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive even called out teams during Media Days in July for their watery non-conference slates, and has called in a “scheduling consultant” to help them beef up their tournament resumes. ESPN’s Myron Medcalf went through each SEC team’s non-conference schedules and ranked them on a “toughness scale,” 1 being softer than Kevin Stalling and 10 being strong as Julius Randle. Not surprisingly, Kentucky’s schedule got top marks:
Toughest: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 12 in Chicago), at North Carolina (Dec. 14), Louisville (Dec. 28)
Next toughest: Baylor (Dec. 6 in Arlington, Texas), vs. Providence (Dec. 1 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), Boise State (Dec. 10)
The rest: UNC-Asheville (Nov. 8), Northern Kentucky (Nov. 10), Robert Morris (Nov. 17), Texas-Arlington (Nov. 19), Cleveland State (Nov. 25), Eastern Michigan (Nov. 27), Belmont (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale (1-10): 10 — Is there a rating higher than 10? John Calipari is not going to bring his highly touted recruiting class to Division I basketball with an easy introduction. Just the opposite, in fact. If Kentucky gets through this slate, then the Wildcats will more than justify the hype. They’ll face Michigan State, a team that’s certainly in the national title preseason conversation, in Chicago in early November. They play at Chapel Hill in mid-December. And then, the reigning champ, Louisville, comes to Lexington on Dec. 28. Oh, Baylor and Boise State — who should both be in the preseason top 25 — will be thirsty for an upset. The only knock against this lineup is that it features only one true road game. Still, good luck, youngsters.
Here’s how he ranked the rest of the league’s non-conference games:
Mississippi State: 3
Ole Miss: 6
South Carolina: 7
Texas A&M: 1
Come on, Texas A&M…really? Step it up, Aggies.