The Huskies basketball team was haunted last season due to a poor non-conference record which held them out of the Big Dance. The Dawgs lost key games on the road at Nevada and Saint Louis while also failing to pick up big win in New York against either Marquette or Duke. The biggest criticism from fans has been the lack of marquee home games against teams which could boost their RPI and overall resume. The Dawg Pack is arguably one of UW’s best weapons so bringing in an above-average opponent to face it head on seems like a smart strategy.
The upcoming 2012-13 season’s non-conference schedule was announced earlier this week and immediately the speculation began to fly. Is it too hard? Too easy? What’s the home schedule? Well, let’s take a quick look.
Oct. 24 – Western Washington (Exhibition) - @ UW: A nice little preview in late October against a local team.
Nov. 11, 13 – Loyola (MD), Albany – @UW: As part of the “Hall of Fame Classic” the Huskies will start off at home. Loyola, 24-9 last year and ranked 126th by kenpom.com (UW finished at 54th), will be the Huskies first official action of the year. To follow will be Albany, 19-12 last year and ranked 192 by kenpom.com, which should prove to be a great warm-up before they head east.
Nov. 17, 18 – Seton Hall, Ohio State/Rhode Island – @Mohegan Sun, Conn: For the second leg of the “Hall of Fame Classic”, Huskies first take on Seton Hall, 21-13 last year and ranked 57th by kenpom.com, and they won’t be push over. This is a perfect neutral court game that the Huskies need to add to their tourney resume. If they were to win, they will play the winner of the tOSU/URI game. As you can imagine, tOSU finished second while URI finished 202. Losing the game to Seton Hall would not only be a black mark early in the season but it will almost certainly keep them from even having a chance to play a reigning Final Four team. That would be a double whammy and CAN NOT happen.
Nov. 24 – Colorado State – @UW: The Rams finished the season 20-12 and were ranked 96 by kenpom.com.
Nov. 28 – Saint Louis – @UW: The Billikens finished the season 26-8 and were ranked 14 by kenpom.com.
Dec. 2 – Cal State Fullerton – @UW: The Titans finished 21-10 and were ranked 169 by kenpom.com.
Dec. 8 – Nevada – @UW: The Wolfpack finished 28-7 and were ranked 111 by kenpom.com.
This two week/four game stretch at home may be the key to the season for the Huskies. Only Cal St. Fullerton is a real cupcake and the other three could easily win if the Huskies don’t play their best. The Billikens were a Cinderella story last year but they do lose a lot of talent. A 3-1 record should be the bare minimum for this foursome.
Dec. 13 – Seattle U – @Key Arena: The Redhawks were 12-15 and ranked 222 by kenpom.com.
Dec. 15 – Jackson State – @UW: The Tigers were 7-24 and ranked 336 by kenpom.com.
Dec. 20 – Cal Poly – @UW: The Mustangs were 18-15 and ranked 165 by kenpom.com.
Dec. 22 – Norther Illinois – @UW: The Huskies were 5-26 and ranked 330 by kenpom.com.
This is what we can call the “cake” portion of the home schedule. I find it hard to see UW losing any of these games, but anything is possible (South Dakota St).
Dec. 29 – UConn – @UConn: The Huskies were 20-14 and ranked 36 by kenpom.com. The Huskies lose a lot of talent from last year’s team as well as enter the first year of sanctions and a post-season ban. This away portion of the home-and-home series may look harder on paper than it actually is. Either way, it will be a great game against a team that many Huskies fans continue to have nightmares about.
Is this the schedule that we want? There’s no “big name” that will be playing at Hec Ed next season which is disappointing to see. However, the Huskies have tried to alleviate that with quantity over quality. We won’t know how good these teams are until the season starts but it doesn’t look much different. I won’t join in on speculating who the best team of the bunch will be but you can be sure that one or two will be very good teams. It’s not ideal, but with UConn coming in 2013-14 it’s getting better. Win them all and there’s not a problem, right?
Obviously, tOSU and UConn are the names that pop out. The Buckeyes will be a tough team as Thad Matta as turned that program into a annual title contender. UConn, as I mentioned, will most certainly have a down year which should give UW a prime opportunity to get a win on the road.
Is it November yet? Bow Down.