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Judging the non-conference scheduling across the board

In a column earlier this week, Gary Parrish tipped his hat to Kansas’ Bill Self and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo for “scheduling aggressively.” Parrish applauded both coaches for being two of the best in the country when it comes to taking risks with the non-conference schedule and putting their respective teams to the test. Parrish also states that many other college basketball coaches across the country shy away from similar scheduling tactics in large part due to “fears and insecurities.” Parrish did admit though that both Self and Izzo are at an advantage because they are secure and established winners in no danger of being fired. The two points are very important. In a college basketball world in which you are measured as a coach by NCAA tournament appearances and wins, the margin for error can be very slim. A select few coaches are in the position to take chances on making the tournament by adding beef to the non-conference schedule. The danger for others is simply too high.

In the wake of Kentucky releasing its 2013-2014 non-conference schedule, a few grumblings about the strength of the schedule could be heard. Personally, I think Kentucky has put together a very solid and challenging schedule for next season. My question is, if Tom Izzo and Bill Self are considered to be “two of the best” when it comes to scheduling… how close behind is Kentucky? And how does Kentucky’s non-conference schedule compare to a few other notable schools across the country such as Louisville, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Gonzaga, and Ohio State? Since not all of the schools have released the full 2013-2014 non-conference schedule yet, let’s take a look at last year’s non-conference schedules for the following teams…

 Michigan State

Neutral: UCONN, Kansas

Home: Texas Southern, Boise State, Oakland, Louisiana-Lafayette, Nicholls State, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Loyola-Chicago, Tuskegee, Texas

Away: Miami (Fla), Bowling Green

Thoughts: Michigan State did take a risk by going away from home twice for two true road games. Michigan State’s neutral site schedule is also very strong. 



Neutral: Michigan State, Washington State, St. Louis, Oregon State (Kansas City, MO)

Home: Southeast Missouri State, Chattanooga, San Jose State, Colorado, Belmont, Richmond, American, Temple

Away: Ohio State

Thoughts: Most of Kansas’ neutral site games were in very close proximity to home, but going on the road to Ohio State was tough scheduling. Kansas’ home schedule didn’t necessarily have marquee opponents with big names that jump off the page, but most of the teams were solid teams with NCAA tournament experience or hope in their respective conferences. 



Neutral: Northern Iowa, Missouri, Duke, Western Kentucky

Home: Manhattan, Samford, Miami (OH), Illinois State, Missouri Kansas City, Florida International, Kentucky

Away: College of Charleston, Memphis

Thoughts: Other than Kentucky, Louisville’s home schedule left much to be desired. With that said, Louisville did travel for 2 true road games as well as playing 4 times away from home on neutral sites against a few tough opponents. 



Neutral: San Diego State

Home: Wagner, Princeton, Colgate, Eastern Michigan, Long Beach State, Monmouth, Canisius, Detroit, Temple (Madison Square Garden), Alcorn State, Central Connecticut

Away: Arkansas

Thoughts: Weak, weak, weak. 



Neutral: Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, Louisville, Temple, Davidson (Charlotte)

Home: Georgia State, Florida Gulf Coast, Ohio State, Deleware, Cornell, Elon, Santa Clara


Thoughts: As you’ll notice, Duke manages to be one of the few teams to actually avoid a true road game. Duke did leave home for 6 legitimate opponents in neutral site games though, as well as hosting a marquee home game in Ohio State. 


   North Carolina


Neutral: Mississippi State, Butler, Chaminade

Home: Florida Atlantic, UAB, East Tennessee State, East Carolina, McNeese State, UNLV

Away: Long Beach State, Indiana, Texas

Thoughts: North Carolina gets credit for going on 3 true road game trips in the non-conference schedule. UNC had the most true road games of any of the teams being examined. 




Neutral: Georgia, Georgetown, Butler

Home: North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Ball State, North Carolina, Coppin State, Central Connecticut State, Mt. St. Mary’s, Florida Atlantic, Jacksonville


Thoughts: Tom Crean realllllly doesn’t like playing away from home…



Neutral: Florida State, Kansas State (Kansas City, MO)

Home: Georgetown (Jacksonville), Alabama State, Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee State (Tampa), Savannah State, UCF, Marquette, Southeastern Louisiana, Air Force (Sunrise)

Away: Arizona, Yale

Thoughts: Florida took a risk by going out west on the road against Arizona. 




Neutral: Clemson, Oklahoma, Davidson, Washington State

Home:  West Virginia, South Dakota, Lewis-Clark State College, Pacific, Illinois, Kansas State (Seattle), Campbell University, Baylor

Away: Oklahoma State

Thoughts: Gonzaga managed to bring a few fairly solid match-ups to the state of Washington for either home games or “neutral” games. Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule is not incredibly tough though, and that’s probably in part due to other teams not wanting to make the trip out west or host a bit of a high-risk opponent in the Zags. 


  Ohio State


Neutral: Marquette, Rhode Island, Washington

Home: Albany, UMKC, Northern Kentucky, Long Beach State, Savannah State, UNC-Asheville, Winthrop, Kansas, Chicago State

Away: Duke

Thoughts: Decent schedule all the way around with a few neutral games against decent opponents and one true road game at Duke. Ohio State also brought in a marquee home match-up with Kansas. 


Kentucky’s 2013-2014 Non-Conference Schedule

Neutral: Michigan State, Providence, Baylor (Cowboy Stadium)

Home: UNC-Asheville, Northern Kentucky, Robert Morris, University of Texas at Arlington, Cleveland State, Eastern Michigan, Boise State, Belmont, Louisville

Away: North Carolina

Thoughts: Kentucky will be playing 3 of the best teams in college basketball season in Michigan State, North Carolina and Louisville. One is neutral, one is home, and one is on the road. That’s a pretty tough and balanced schedule. The other home games on the schedule do leave something to be desired though. 


3 parting thoughts:

1) Take a look at the home schedules for each and every team listed. Other than maybe 1 or 2 (mostly 1) marquee opponents, fans of other teams are left with the same type of home schedule as Kentucky fans. The games aren’t overly exciting, but we aren’t the only ones looking at that kind of home schedule.

2) Playing neutral site games is clearly becoming a more advantageous option than going on the road for a true road game.

3) The biggest difference right now between Kentucky’s overall home schedule when compared to some of these other teams is that the SEC is considerably down as of late. The SEC schedule only provides a few highly anticipated home games each season now. Some of the other conferences such as the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, etc. are strong overall, and therefore at least 4-5 of the home games during the conference season are ones that fans get excited about.

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

27 Comments for Judging the non-conference scheduling across the board

  1. sam
    2:36 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    louisville plays kentucky in lexington. just to clarify

  2. BOSOX
    2:42 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Those were those teams schedules from LAST season!!! Said on very last sentence

  3. Rick Pitino
    2:46 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Even though Cal, Wes and Nike have broken every rule under the sun to get recruits, we still won it all with actual college players. Sure, Wes has personally contacted kids we have recruited and told them not to consider us or he would make their lives miserable. We hvae had to recruit kids outside the top 25 because of Wes and the fact that we will not pay them or their handlers. But the way we did it is much more rewarding. UK fans know it as well but will never admit it. Go on Cal, go buy a few more burger boys, so you can get back to what you do best. That would be rolling it out there. Even you can’t screw up next season. In the meantime, we will cleanly get players who go to class more than one semester and we will still win.

  4. Andrew
    2:55 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah I didn’t know we played Duke this up coming year. Geez do some research before you post something!!!!!!

  5. M
    3:42 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    #4 see #2’s comment, then take your foot out of your mouth.
    #3)Yawn. Very original.

  6. Ryan
    3:44 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    I dont understand why you would use everyone’s schedule from last season and then UK’s upcoming season. Why not just use UK’s schedule from last year for a fair comparison?

  7. How clean?
    4:09 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Hey #3. Ric has never broken rules. Especially moral ones. Cheating on your wife on a table in public restaurant, then paying for her abortion is the mark of a “clean” coach that does things the right way. What a hypocrite you are. Get lost.

  8. oh really
    4:16 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Then why post about the non conference scheduling from last year. This post is stupid and 5 your a douschebag b*tch. Go F*CK Yourself you punk ass loser!!!!!

  9. Dr. Tom
    4:22 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    In addition to the Duke and Louisville errors you didn’t list Kentucky on UNC’s schedule? I agree with Andrew, you probably need to do a better job of research!

  10. Dr. Tom
    4:27 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Sorry Ally, my bad. I should have read your last sentence more carefully…you listed last year’s schedule. You’re good!!

  11. Andrew
    4:42 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    But what I don’t understand is why put up other teams schedules from last year?? Why don’t you compare the 13-14 schedules. Last year is old news

  12. Otis
    4:52 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Duke’s schedule turned out to be weaker since UK went to the NIT and lost in the first round to Robert Moriss

    After the game, as Duke players were walking off the court, some overzealous UK fans were screaming at Duke players that in March things will be different.

  13. M
    4:57 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    #8) You’re a real hardass. I’m terified. Wow. When you used CAPS lock to tell me to F*CK myself that was great. If you’re near Cincinnati anytime let me know.

  14. M
    5:06 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Also #8, people get on here just to bitch about anything. A lot of times they complain without reading the entire article. Ally probably wrote this because there have been a few people on here, and nationally from other fan bases that don’t think Kentucky’s schedule that was just released is that good THIS season coming up. Since not all of the 2013-2014 schedules are released she’s simply comparing them to out-of-conference schedules last season? Why? A) That’s all she has to compare it to. B) Many of the people b*tching about UK’s schedule this season come from the fan bases listed above. Since UK’s schedule is close to some of these schedules from last season that were considered tough, how can people bash Kentucky’s?? The article was in response to the haters bashing this year’s schedule to show that it’s solid. Hence these 2 sentences in her post Einstein:

    In the wake of Kentucky releasing its 2013-2014 non-conference schedule, a few grumblings about the strength of the schedule could be heard.

    Since not all of the schools have released the full 2013-2014 non-conference schedule yet, let’s take a look at last year’s non-conference schedules for the following teams…

  15. raekwon
    5:08 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    13-I wouldn’t gripe about someone being a hardass (accurate?). You can’t even recognize the red, spell-check squiggle line under your weak misspellings……..

  16. Steve
    5:12 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Ha Ha! #4. Do some research before you post something!!!!!! Ha! Good stuff. I know it’s hard to get through more than one paragraph or sentence nowadays, but good lord. If you’re going to criticize and use a lot of exclamation points to emphasize your point, you may want to slow down, and re-read what you’re whining about.

  17. M
    5:15 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Thank you so much raekwon for evaluating my spelling. Wow. Thank you for enlightening me. Also, this laptop doesn’t show red, spell-check squille lines. I better throw it away since I had a typo on a frickin sports comment section. This isn’t a damn thesis. Good lord.

  18. M
    5:16 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    *gg. So sorry master.

  19. Tom "there are bodies in my backyard and kids locked in my basement" Crean
    5:20 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    We have the grammar police on patrol. Good work Rae. Thank you for keeping us safe lol.

  20. uk4life
    6:21 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    This comments section, although limited in the amount of comments, has it all. The people who whine about the post, the people who whine about the post that can’t read, the trolls, the internet tough guys like #8, and the grammar police. Nicely done.

  21. Will
    6:51 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Pretty pointless post and here’s why:

    1. CONFERENCE STRENGTH: Big 10 and Big East teams all play 3-4 top 10/15 teams on the road during conference play not to mention probably around 6-7 ranked opponents during conf play. Despite this, most still played more competition out of conference than we have the last 2 seasons. Michigan State, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse, Georgetown, UConn, et al. You should have simply left them out if you were going to put up this post. Big 10 >>> Big East >>>>>>>>>>>>> SEC in terms of conference strength and difficulty. Even the ACC is significantly more difficult and ACC teams OOC schedules are pretty much better than ours have been the last two years. Yeah you can have your caveat about conference strength but really that caveat pretty much makes your post moot/null/invalid.

    2. OVERALL SCHEDULING: Michigan got teams like NC State(pre-season top 10) and Arkansas to come to Ann Arbor last season whether due to conference tourneys or contracts between the schools. This was in-addition to neutral site games against WVU, Pitt, and Kansas State. Our biggest OOC opponent to play in Rupp last year was Baylor and they’re actually slightly below those all those teams in name. UL will be our biggest home game of the year this season and Florida will be big as well as a conference opponent but that’s nothing compared to the home/overall schedule a team like UM had last season. Last year they played the aforementioned PLUS #10 OSU, Illinois, #9 Michigan State, #2 Indiana, and #22 Wisconsin JUST AT HOME. To put it simply, our overall schedule is a joke when compared to other elite teams or even just top 25 teams. There’s no reason UM should have a tougher and more interesting home slate than KENTUCKY and this is with UM playing a Big 10 schedule btw which includes road games @IU, @OSU, @MSU and @Wisconsin, etc every year.

    3. HYPOCRISY: Love how the excuse that teams are playing more neutral site games is used but in the same breath you bash Duke for not playing a “road game” when they played more marquee teams on neutral sites than anyone. If neutral site games are all the rave than road games aren’t desirable. Only reasons we played ND and UL on the road last year was because of the BE/SEC challenge and the UK/UL series being home-and-home, respectively. Duke not only played more people away from home but also played OSU at home which brings me to my last point and really the only thing anyone can complain about in regards to our schedule which is….

    4. HOME GAMES ARE ZZZZzzzzZZZZ: UL is really the only interesting game we will have had OOC at home the last two seasons. If I were a season ticket holder I’d be pretty pissed about paying thousands of dollars and the who’s-who of our home-schedule the last two years being Baylor, LIU Brooklyn, Morehead St, Portland, Marshall, Eastern Michigan, Robert Morris, Boise State, et al. What is this, Conference USA? Every two years UK fans could count on having seen UL, UNC, IU(Freedom Hall basically being a home game), and an assortment of games against KU, Michigan State, etc in Rupp Arena(or Freedom Hall when UK/IU was neutral site). Dropping Indiana and not having UNC last season definitely contributed to this but even with UNC back you’re talking about one truly “marquee” game at-home out-of-conference per-season. With the SEC being historically terrible the last several seasons (and generally being bad ever year) there’s no reason we should be playing the home schedules we’re playing. And its not like our road-neutral games justify it either. Plenty of teams are playing pretty equivalent neutral-site games AND playing knockout conference schedules which include 3-4+ ranked opponents at home. Hell, Cal had stronger home slates at Memphis.

    Our out of conference schedules should be STRONGER than most other teams because the SEC is a bad basketball conference. Bad like the A-10 and Mountain West had more NCAA tournament quality teams than we did. At the minimum, Cal should be scheduling names people recognize regardless of how “good” they are. People would appreciate seeing teams like Cincinnati, WVU, VCU, Butler, WKU, Memphis(why don’t we schedule them???), Oklahoma, Stanford, etc come play in Rupp if we’re not going to have IU and aren’t going to be playing in any important/relevant regular season tournaments. We’re bringing in a historically talented team and it would have been nice to take on all challengers but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. UL is at home and UNC is going to be ‘ok’ but far from great. Michigan State is going to be our toughest game of the year IMO because it’s neutral site and most-importantly, early in the season. Meh…I need some aspirin.

  22. AADD
    7:50 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Familiar with the word “brevity”? had to throw this into the read later bucket. Synonym for file 13, but someday I will read it. Are you the same Will that posts spoofed URL’s?

  23. Joe
    7:54 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Gonzaga played a true road game at Butler last year. Very surprised it was missed since it was one of the greatest games of the year in my opinion. It was also gameday….

  24. Bledsoe's Biceps
    7:54 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    21) +1 on your point #4. The SEC is traditionally weak, so the non-conference schedule should include more marquee home games. Season ticket holders are being robbed.

    8:33 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    Man it sure will be great when the summer gets here , I hear all the trolls will go back underground

  26. marion county
    11:10 pm May 5, 2013 Permalink

    play indiana!

  27. Matt
    11:21 am May 6, 2013 Permalink

    #24) I agree the SEC was awful last year. The year before though, the conference wasn’t bad if you look at out-of-conference wins in big games. Several examples: LSU beat Marquette, Arkansas beat Michigan, Vanderbilt was solid, Alabama beat Purdue, Georgia beat Notre Dame I believe. I’m hoping last year was down because the conference in general was very young. I think Miss. State tanking hurts. Several years ago TN was good, MS St was good, Vandy was good, UK, was good, and so was Florida. I don’t think the conference is weak enough to be called traditionally weak. Although last year they sucked.