Sadly the predator is taking his talents overseas.
While we are still a bit away from full basketball schedules being released, a number of out of conference games have been leaking out. Enough to where we can start to get a feel for how teams are scheduling this year, at least. For instance, a big fuss was made last week when UConn announced their non conference schedule and the toughest opponents on their schedule were Harvard and a rebuilding Arkansas and Tennessee. Sadly, weak out of conference scheduling has been a plague in the SEC for the past few years outside of Kentucky. Generally this leaves us clueless as to how good teams like Florida and Vanderbilt really are until early February.
Not this year though, as both Florida and Vanderbilt have made efforts to step up their out of conference match ups, coinciding with a year where both are considered top-15 teams in the preseason.
You already know that Kentucky will play St. Johns, Louisville, North Carolina and Kansas in the non conference, but did you know that Florida will be facing six non conference NCAA tourney teams? The big two will be when Florida plays Ohio State followed by a trip to Syracuse and capping it by hosting Arizona. OSU is generally considered the number 3 team in the nation right now, with Syracuse and Arizona both in a number of top ten’s. Consider those three must-watch games for an SEC fan.
Vanderbilt hasn’t scheduled quite as aggressively, but there is at least one game you’ll absolutely want to watch. As a part of the SEC/Big East showdown, Vandy will travel to the KFC Yum! center and take on Pitino’s Cards. Most polls currently have Vanderbilt a few notches higher than Louisville thanks to the experience they return, but the road atmosphere may be enough to tip the favor away from the Commodores. Either way, we can consider it a match up of first round flame outs.
In a year where it looks like Kentucky will have one of its best teams in recent memory, the SEC looks to be stepping their game up too. It should be a great season.