UC basketball released the 2013-14 schedule today. Many of the opponents were known, but now the entire picture is laid out. Here's the non-conference portion.
Nov. 8: North Carolina Central
Nov. 12: N.C. State
Nov. 16 Appalachian State
Nov. 20: Campbell
Nov. 26: UMass Lowell
Nov. 29: Kennesaw State
Dec. 3: USC-Upstate
Dec. 7: @New Mexico
Dec. 14: vs. Xaver (US Bank)
Dec. 17: vs. Pittsburgh (MSG)
Dec. 21: Middle Tennessee
Dec. 23: Chicago State
Dec. 28 Nebraska
Also, there will be two conference games a piece against: Louisville, Memphis, Temple, UConn, Rutgers, USF, UCF, SMU, Houston.
First number that needs to be noted is the Bearcats' non-conference RPI continues to drop. Here's the totals the last three years:
- 2013-14: 168
- 2012-13: 173
- 2011-12: 213
Beyond that, taking a look at the non-conference, the presence of premier non-conference games stacks UC up with most every Top 25 team.
They will take part in the Jimmy V Classic against Pittsburgh -- as large of a stage as any. Then they will also return for a second season to US Bank Arena for the showdown against Xavier on the new Fox Sports 1.
The home game against. N.C. State will be a part of the ESPN 24-hour college hoops marathon. Arguably two of the biggest college basketball events ESPN does all season (JV/Marathon) will involve the Bearcats. How many schools can make that claim?
In all, UC will play seven games against teams slated in this early Top 25 column from Jason King at ESPN.
The sleeper of the non-conference schedule will be Middle Tennessee State. KenPom actually had MTSU rated as the 37th best team in the country at the conclusion of last year and they made the Big Dance as an at large.
Universally, people were thrilled with last year's Bearcats schedule. It concluded the season ranked as the No. 24 most difficult in the country. This non-conference slate keeps up with that notion.
The biggest difference will be in the quantity of conference powers, but the quality of them is as good as any. Louisville is projected as a top three team universally coming off their championship while Memphis and UConn will both land in the Top 20 of most polls.
Would everyone love to see Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette and the others from the old Big East still on the conference menu? Of course, but this offers plenty of punch to keep UC in the conversation among the top programs in the country.