The controversy over the qualities of schedules normally would not start till February, when the highlight begins to shine on the NCAA event choice course of.
However why wait?
Nonconference schedules could make or break groups’ seeding or their inclusion within the 68-team event area. That has made schedule building an artwork type. Applications want sufficient wins to enter the dialog for event choice, however there additionally have to be sufficient high quality opponents to make these wins value one thing. And all of it begins as quickly because the 2022-23 season recommendations on Nov. 7.
This is a have a look at the applications that took on a November and December assortment of video games that ought to assist them (and put together them) come March — and which groups may look again with some remorse (or no less than are taking part in a softer schedule than normal) .
Which groups helped themselves probably the most with their schedule?
UConn Huskies: One might argue that this schedule is just too troublesome. Did the Huskies tackle an excessive amount of, particularly now that Paige Buckers wish to miss the season? In fact, Geno Auriemma would by no means subscribe to that principle. Play one of the best to be one of the best is what UConn is making an attempt this season. That is the nation’s prime nonconference slate, the type of schedule that’s good for the game.
With video games in opposition to the Texas Longhorns, NC State Wolfpack, Duke Blue Devils and probably Iowa Hawkeyes (if each attain the Nov. 27 championship sport of the Phil Knight Legacy in Portland, Oregon) all earlier than the top of Thanksgiving weekend, the Huskies have a November equal to an NCAA event run. Throw within the South Carolina Gamecocks, Notre Dame Combating Irish, Maryland Terrapins, Tennessee Woman Volunteers, Princeton Tigers and Florida State Seminoles, and UConn has a gauntlet.
As many as seven of these opponents have Elite Eight potential. UConn misplaced 4 video games exterior the Massive East final season but survived to succeed in the NCAA event title sport. This slate of video games is much more rigorous. Solely the outcomes and the Huskies’ displaying in March will inform us if it was value it.
Tennessee Woman Vols: These aren’t fairly the Pat Summitt days of play anybody, wherever, however the Woman Vols can be recurrently examined within the first two months. That ought to pay dividends come March. They open the season with consecutive video games in opposition to the Ohio State Buckeyes, Atlantic 10 favourite UMass Minutewomen and Indiana Hoosiers, then instantly head to the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 19-21 within the Bahamas, the place the potential opponent within the finals may very well be Texas or the Louisville Cardinals. Tennessee additionally performs the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Stanford Cardinal and UConn, giving the Woman Vols one of the best nonconference schedule of any staff within the SEC and one that’s worthy of a No. 1 seed.
Creighton Bluejays: The seventh-rated nonconference schedule is the most important cause the Bluejays obtained an at-large bid and a no. 10 seed to the NCAA event a season in the past. Then they turned it into an look within the Elite Eight. With video games on the South Dakota Coyotes, South Dakota State Jackrabbits and Stanford, plus matchups with the Arkansas Razorbacks and Nebraska Cornhuskers in Omaha, this slate is even higher. Two wins amongst this group with anticipated success within the Massive East and Creighton can be significantly better than a No. 10 seeds this coming March.
Belmont Bruins: That is what mid-major nonconference scheduling ought to seem like. Belmont is the favourite to win the Missouri Valley Convention in its first yr within the league. Ought to they falter within the convention event, the Bruins have high quality video games within the first two months to reinforce their at-large résumé. Belmont will host Louisville and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, go to Iowa and the Georgia Woman Bulldogs, and play the Villanova Wildcats, and probably the Baylor Bears in Florida on the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 25-27. The Bruins are ok to win any of these video games. In the event that they do, an NCAA event bid will arrive.
Ohio State Buckeyes: The Buckeyes did not play a single nonconference sport in opposition to a staff contained in the NET prime 100 final season, however benefitted from a positive Massive Ten schedule to submit a 23-6 pre-NCAA event report. That is why even with a share of the Massive Ten regular-season title, the Buckeyes solely earned a No. 6 seeds. Success in opposition to this season’s schedule could have far more affect. The Nov. 8 matchup with Tennessee in Columbus is without doubt one of the finest video games of the primary week. Louisville within the ACC/Massive Ten Problem, plus the South Florida Bulls and both Arkansas or the Oregon Geese within the San Diego Invitational is significantly better preparation for this veteran Ohio State staff.
Toledo Rockets: When does a 26-5 staff that dominates its league fail to get an at-large bid? When solely a type of 26 wins comes in opposition to a staff within the prime 100 of the NET, and 5 of 9 nonconference video games have been in opposition to groups exterior the highest 250. A foul schedule price the Rockets an opportunity to play within the 2022 NCAA event. Coach Tricia Cullop mounted that this offseason. Some clunkers are nonetheless there, however Toledo added Duke and the Michigan Wolverines to go together with repeat video games in opposition to the Missouri State Woman Bears and Dayton Flyers. That ought to assist immensely ought to the MAC regular-season favorites falter within the convention event once more.
Which groups’ schedules might have been harder?
South Carolina Gamecocks: The Gamecocks’ schedule is not dangerous. Maryland, Stanford and UConn are nonetheless there. This simply is not the standard South Carolina nonconference slate, one which was tops within the nation final yr. The Gamecocks have a set a excessive bar for scheduling that they did not fairly attain this season. It is laborious to see an East Tennessee State Bucs the place there was an NC State final season, or a Memphis Tigers the place there was a Duke.
Stanford Cardinals: The identical goes for the Cardinal. The nonconference schedule would not meet this system customary this yr. South Carolina and Tennessee are the one top-10 caliber groups Stanford will play all season, and the Cardinal do not play a single nonconference sport after Dec. 20. This can be a veteran group and, like South Carolina, a no. 1 seed appears inevitable, however the checks in March aren’t fairly as straightforward if these in November and December weren’t difficult sufficient.
Notre Dame Combating Irish: The Irish have grown right into a veteran group that ought to have aspirations for an Elite Eight or past. But the Irish have a schedule extra designed for a younger staff merely making an attempt to develop confidence. Apart from a back-to-back contests in opposition to Maryland and UConn to start December, Notre Dame performs nobody exterior of the ACC that builds the résumé. If the Irish go 0-2 in these video games, the margin for error in a extremely aggressive ACC will get small in the event that they hope to obtain a excessive NCAA event seed.
LSU Tigers: The thrill of seeing Angel Reese in a Tiger uniform is tempered by the actual fact LSU would not play a marquee sport till Jan. 30 when Tennessee visits the Maravich Middle. The Tiger’s finest nonconference sport is a gathering with the Oregon State Beavers in Maui per week earlier than Christmas. LSU’s probabilities of a excessive seed all relaxation with an SEC slate that can also be missing, with just one sport every in opposition to the Woman Vols and South Carolina.
Virginia Tech Hokies: The schedule for the Hokies was doubtless finished, or near it, by the point Ashley Owusu different Taylor Soule transferred to Blacksburg, however that does not ease the frustration. Potential first-team All-American heart Elizabeth Kitley, main what may very well be a top-10 staff, might use extra of a showcase than only a go to to Tennessee and internet hosting Nebraska. Video games in opposition to the Kentucky Wildcats and Missouri Tigers within the Bahamas aren’t as interesting as they might have been a yr in the past.