I was sitting in a coach's office late one night, about 20 hours before his team was scheduled to play a game, watching film with the staff and just basically observing how they went about preparing. We had pizza for dinner. I remember that and a few other things -- among them the coach stopping film once to take a phone call. A former assistant, who was now a head coach, was the person calling. So the coach answered. I only heard one side of the conversation. But this is basically what I heard:
"So how'd you do tonight?"
"Who'd you play?
"I've told you a million times. At the end of the season, your fans won't know your strength of schedule. All they'll know is how many games you won and how many games you lost. You should've never scheduled that game. You're in your first year. You knew you couldn't win it. So if you didn't have to play it, you shouldn't have played it."
I bring this up because Georgetown released its non-league schedule today.
Simply put, it's terrible.
I'm not going to insist I've never seen a national brand schedule less aggressively. But I certainly can't remember a national brand scheduling less aggressively. As Casual Hoya pointed out via Twitter, seven of the 11 non-league games are against teams that were 320th or worse at KenPom last season -- specifically North Texas (320), Maryland Eastern Shore (321), Maine (337), Howard (338), Coppin State (343), North Carolina A&T (349) and Alabama A&M (351). The other four are against Syracuse (55), Richmond (92), Mount St. Mary's (209) and Jacksonville (275). So that's a non-league schedule featuring just two top-200 opponents -- not to mention zero schools that earned at-large bids to the 2017 NCAA Tournament or are projected to earn at-large bids to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. In fact, it's possible Georgetown has a non-league schedule that won't even feature a game against a 2018 NIT team.
And it's the byproduct of the fact that Georgetown stunk last season and will likely be way worse this season under first-year coach Patrick Ewing. The Hoyas won't win many, if any, Big East games regardless of whether Ewing proves to be a capable coach or not because the roster is atrocious. Consequently, a non-league schedule like this is the only thing that could possibly give Ewing a realistic hope to reach double-digit wins. So Ewing put together a non-league schedule like this. And it's an approach that falls completely in line with the advice that one head coach gave that other head coach several years back when I was sitting in his office and listening to his phone call.
But it's still lousy.
And, really, it's a problem throughout college basketball -- how too many teams play too many games against lousy opponents. And I don't mean just lousy teams like Georgetown that play lousy opponents like Alabama A&M. I mean even the best teams play too many games against lousy and/or totally outmatched opponents, which is counter-productive for a sport that already has too many things working against it.
Take North Carolina last season, for example.
I don't single out the Tar Heels because they're different than Duke, Kentucky, Kansas or any other traditional power. Because they're not. It's just that they're the reigning national champions. And they're the first team that popped into my head.
Check this out ...
Seven of North Carolina's 14 non-league games last season were against sub-100 KenPom teams. The Tar Heels were favored by at least 15 points in nine of the 14. And they won those nine by an average of 29.9 points.
Is that fun for anybody?
To be clear, I understand the business side of college basketball and the need to play "buy games" to create season-ticket packages. So I'm not assigning blame to Roy Williams or any other head coach. If I ran a prominent college basketball program, I'd do the same thing because the system in place basically requires it. Again, I get it. I totally get it. But I also know it's not ideal for the sport, or the fans, when so many big brands spend so much time playing games they can't possibly lose against teams that do not matter. There's no easy or obvious solution to the problem, I acknowledge. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem that limits the sport -- especially in November and December.
Bottom line, Georgetown's embarrassing schedule is both understandable (from Ewing's perspective) and worthy of ridicule (from everybody else's perspective). But, make no mistake, the Hoyas won't even be close to the only big brand playing mostly dreadful opponents in November and December. Nope, pretty much all big brands will be playing mostly dreadful opponents in November and December. Only difference here is that Georgetown's opponents are more dreadful than most. And that Georgetown is more dreadful than usual. Which is why Georgetown's opponents are more dreadful than most.