Defending champs UConn get Duke, Texas, Stanford, Florida on schedule
The 2014-15 non-conference schedule for the Huskies is a mixed bag. Some easy opponents -- and some very tough ones.
What will Kevin Ollie and the Huskies do as an encore for that surprising title run back in April?
Remember, it was just Ollie's second year as coach of the Huskies -- and his first eligible season to make the NCAAs. There was a one-year postseason ban back in 2012-13 due to UConn falling below the APR floor.
So the No. 7-seeded Huskies go on and do what no other seven seed ever had: win it all.
Now Shabazz Napier's graduated, as has deep threat Niels Giffey. DeAndre Daniels left for the NBA with one year of eligibility left; he's currently set to play overseas after getting drafted 37th overall to Toronto.
UConn will still be a factor in the American, but how will they compare to Memphis and SMU? The Huskies formally released their non-conference schedule on Tuesday. They'll play 12 games outside of AAC competition.
Nov. 14: vs. Bryant
Nov. 20: vs. College of Charleston (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
Nov. 21: vs. Dayton or Texas A&M (Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
Nov. 23: vs. G. Mason/W. Virginia/New Mexico/Boston College (Tip-Off)
Nov. 30: vs. Texas
Dec. 5: vs. Yale
Dec. 14: vs. Coppin State
Dec. 18: vs. Duke (at IZOD Center)
Dec. 22: vs. Columbia
Dec. 28: vs. Central Connecticut
Jan. 3: at Florida
Jan. 17: at Stanford
This is near-perfect for what UConn should be aiming for in 2014-15. The home games against Bryant and Yale will be against teams that will be "easier" wins, but those two will compete for league titles in their own conferences.
Saving the the only two road games for the final two games on the schedule is a savvy move. Florida will have Final Four hopes again, and Stanford could be the second-best team in the Pac-12 next season. Getting Duke is obviously a coup, and Texas at home will be nice; the Longhorns should be a single-digit seed in next year's NCAAs.
And we'll see what Puerto Rico offers up. C of C will be wasted calories, probably, but landing Dayton and either West Virginia or New Mexico would be beneficial. All in all, given UConn's roster next year -- which is going to be good but a step down -- this is enough of a challenge but not so tough that UConn will be in serious trouble by mid-January.
Impressive haul. Ollie's keeping expectations and goals where he wants them, and the fanbase no doubt appreciates that as well.
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