First of all, this post is about Basketball. This is NOT because I’m still in a coma from the East Carolina game this past weekend. I swear. Honest. It’s more because there’s not much doing on the football front because of the almost two week gap in the schedule.
The basketball schedule was released last week. My dad called it the hardest non-conference schedule he’s seen since he’s been a Mountie hoops fan, dating back almost thirty years. I don’t know if it’s the hardest schedule ever, but it does have some tough tests. Most teams make sure they get out of the non-conference portion of their schedule as a one or two loss team at worst. We’ve got at least five “real” games ahead of us before we enter Big East play, and not a single one is in the friendly confines of the Coliseum.
Let’s see what’s ahead:
Nov. 28th – Iowa (Las Vegas Invitational)
If the team can handle the bright lights of Las Vegas and refrain from trying to re-create scenes from Swingers, we should be fine on the first day of the Vegas Invitational. Do I have any information to back that up? Not really, except this Iowa team was under-.500 last year and the internet-pundits don’t see them getting any better. If we’re half as good as I think we will be, we should roll.
Nov. 29th – Kansas St./Kentucky (Las Vegas Invitational)
If we draw a KSU team that lost four starters from last year’s tournament team, I’d say we have a really good shot to win this one. If we draw the Patrick Patterson-led Kentucky team, then it could be a long afternoon for the ‘Eers. If are drawn into a border-war with our neighbors to the Southeast, it will be the team’s first real test of the year. That, and regardless of if we win or lose in game one, we’ll play a team called the Wildcats in game two.
Dec. 3rd – at Mississippi
The first of a home and home with Ole Miss. This one’s on the schedule because Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy is a former Huggins assistant and interim coach at Cincinnati. He got the Bearcats into the tournament that year and the idiots in their athletic department gave the job to Cronin instead. Oh well. The Rebels were a middle of the pack SEC team last year and made a run to the NIT Semifinals. This could be a real trap game going on the road early to a program on the rise.
Dec. 9th – Davidson (Coaches Against Cancer; Madison Square Garden)
It will be fun to be back in the world’s greatest arena. We face the Davidson Wildcats, a team you’d never heard of until last year’s tournament run when Stephen Curry because the smiling face of March Madness. This is the ‘Eers highest profile game of the non-conference slate. Despite going deep in the tournament last year, I think that we should handle the Wildcats pretty easily. They’re a one-man show.
Dec. 27th- at Ohio State
Another home-and-home set to return to the Coliseum in ’09-’10. This is the football game people all around the mountain state have been dying to see for years. This game features a match-up of the last two NIT champions. I can see the headlines now. Two years removed from Oden and Conley’s dominance, I expect it to be another couple of years before the Buckeyes have another shot at the national limelight despite again having a much bally-hooed frosh at the Center position. I expect to see the ‘Eers cruise in this one. Big East trumps Big Ten on the hardwood any day.