Talked yesterday about the advantages of the Jimmy V Classic and before that post even began collecting hits, UC added another game with a verbal agreement for a home-and-home with Nebraska, according to The Enquirer. The Cornhuskers finished 15-18 last season and 5-13 in the B1G.
This makes me want to rerack a concept I wrote about a few years back which is discussing what makes a quality basketball schedule. It's particularly relevant as UC figures out how to create a schedule that adds the right number of challenges in a new conference environment.
We have to start with where we ended and look at last year's schedule. The Bearcats finished with the 27th toughest schedule (reluctantly) judging by the RPI. Playing a top 30 schedule should be a goal every year. Elite programs play elite schedules. That will be more challenging without the run of ranked Big East teams this year.
How many formidable games does a team need to make that happen?
I'd categorize formidable games as any game against a major conference squad, including the high end of the A-10. You can't control what teams do that year, but you can control scheduling teams who traditionally fare well.
Here's last year's list of 23.
Games against major opponents (Counting all BE teams) -- 23
Games against previous year at-large tourney teams -- 13
This year's conference slate will have eight conference games against tourney teams (I count UConn, who would have made the tournament) with home-and-home games against Memphis, Temple, UConn and Louisville. With those eight games, that leaves the need for five non-conference games against 2013 Big Dance teams in the non-conference.
Right now you have games against Pittsburgh, NC State and New Mexico. There are more games in the works. For the first time in the Mick Cronin era Xavier isn't coming off a tourney appearance so they are uncharacteristically left off the list. UC has scheduled to host San Diego State, but SDSU has been looking for ways out of that due to other schedule additions.
So, in order to reach last year's tourney number UC would either already have reached it or need two more games to be added against tourney teams depending on if you count X or SDSU.
2013 Bearcats known opponents from last year's NCAA Tournament
San Diego State**
As for reaching the 23 games against major opponents, you can now throw Nebraska into that lot. Within conference, you add two games apiece against USF, Rutgers and I'll toss in SMU -- if Larry Brown is your coach, you belong. That gives you 20 (counting SDSU).
What does all this mean? If UC adds a total of three more games against formidable opponents -- even if those teams didn't make the tournament last year -- you have a near replica of last year's slate. The challenge grows a bit when Louisville and Rutgers leave the league next season, but one year at a time. And this year looks like another top 30 schedule.
--- Want to add a quick congratulations to hurdler Terrence Somerville. I know he's probably not thinking about the accomplishment of being a second team All-American after failing to qualify for Saturday's national finals in the 110-meter hurdles, but it's still quite a feat. Congrats on a heck of a career, Terrence.
--- Also, hope everyone can take time to watch this video of the relationship between Jordan Luallen, Munchie Legaux and a courageous 9-year-old. The stories of these off-the-field successes aren't told nearly enough. Cool to show two great representatives of the Bearcats.
--- Randomness ...
--- I once did a karaoke rendition of Gin & Juice at a dinner party, I think it probably wasn't as well received as Bono and The Edge performing Sunday, Bloody Sunday at this one.
--- "Whoomp, There It Is" still collects half a million dollars a year. The two dudes who wrote it only make about 140k of that. "Whoomp, There's Roughly 28 Percent Of It" likely wasn't as catchy a tune.
--- Will Ferrell taking a shot at spoofing 80s drama miniseries. I'm on board.
--- StereoGum ranks the top 10 Arcade Fire songs. I'm partial to Wake Up, but hard to argue with any of their stuff.
--- Since we are talking AF, I'll post the No. 1 from the list. Have a great weekend, everybody.