Every year there are teams in college basketball that schedule aggressively in the nonconference. And, every year, there's teams that do quite the opposite. Today, afterwe're going to highlight the latter.
Each of the five teams that qualified for our list are teams within the power conference structure. Because of that, they may be disincentivized from scheduling tough in the nonconference because of ample opportunities to prove their merit in conference play. Which is a reasonable assumption.
But hey, we can't let these teams get off that easy. You schedule soft, we will take notice.
This list is comprised solely off my subjective view of scheduling. It is not based upon any strength of schedule metrics, it does not account for preseason polls, nor does the specific venue of the games matter much. The only thing that matters is how I perceive a team's level of aggressiveness in scheduling and how soft or strong said schedule is.
Let's jump right into it.
1. Iowa State
- vs. IUPUI, Nov. 7
- vs. Milwaukee, Nov. 20
- vs. North Dakota, Nov. 30
- vs. McNeese State, Dec. 11
- vs. Omaha, Dec. 21
Schedule thoughts: Outside of the annual rivalry game with Iowa, the only real lookers on this nonconference slate is a neutral vs. Villanova on Nov. 24 and a home tilt vs. St. John's 10 days later. The rest is just straight up bad. Five of the 10 games are against teams ranked 320 or worse at KenPom.com, including IUPUI, which KenPom projects as the worst team in college hoops last season at dead last No. 363. Woof!
Schedule thoughts: Under Patrick Ewing, Georgetown has scheduled soft for years. And this season? Well, it's not much different. The Big 12-Big East battle against No. 25 Texas Tech is really its only saving grace here. That's the only team on the Hoyas' nonconference schedule even generating votes in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. It's probably going to be an ugly season regardless for the Hoyas but the nonconference slate is equally ugly.
3. Texas Tech
Schedule thoughts: Only half of the 10 nonconference opponents for Texas Tech last season finished with a winning record if we exclude additional Maui Invitational games on top of Creighton. (Solely for the purpose of it being TBD on who it will play beyond the Bluejays.) Nearly half of its nonconference opponents finished with a losing record last season and in totality -- again, excluding whatever additional games it will play in the Maui beyond Creighton -- those opponents finished with a record that was well below .500, too: combined, they were 52-101 in 2021-22. There's always a chance that can change a little, maybe a lot, but most of these matchups are scheduled auto-Ws where Tech should roll by double digits easily.
- at Wichita State, Nov. 29
- vs. No. 5 Kansas, Dec. 10
- vs. No. 23 Illinois, Dec. 22
- vs. Iowa State, Jan. 28
Schedule thoughts: The top matchups for Mizzou in its nonconference slate allows it to avoid a No. 1 ranking on this list, but ... it's certainly close. Outside the big three -- Wichita State, Kansas and Illinois -- only one team the Tigers face is ranked in the top 100 at KenPom to open the season.
Schedule thoughts: The Pac-12's wonky schedule with conference games starting in December then pauses until the end of December makes Utah's schedule at first glance look decent, especially with Arizona on Dec. 1 on deck. But believe me: it is not decent. This schedule is not very tough. Aside from tests against BYU and TCU it should not only win out in non-league play, but do so by 10, 15, maybe 20 points on average per game.
And 1: LSU
- vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 10
- vs. No. 25 Texas Tech, Jan. 28
Schedule thoughts: LSU's opening slate in SEC play is hilariously loaded -- I mean, seriously, it's just downright evil -- but the prelude to it in nonconference play is quite the opposite. Only two opponents are ranked inside KenPom's top 150 -- and one of those, Wofford, is ranked No. 147. This is a schedule unbefitting of a major conference player like LSU.