UVA Basketball 2013-2014 Out of Conference Schedule Analysis

USA TODAY Sports

Who will UVA take on before ACC play begins? Will it be less of a disaster than last season?

Wahoo fans will remember that the 2012-2013 OOC schedule was...less than successful. Despite a signature win at Wisconsin, UVA went 0-3 against CAA teams, including losses to ODU, who finished 5-25, and Delaware, which kept the Hoos from competing in Madison Square Garden in the Preseason NIT semifinals. The team's "bad losses" ultimately kept them out of the Big Dance, as the schedule left too little margin for error for the inconsistant Wahoo squad.

This year's slate, while not blowing anybody out of the water, is a solid, challenging one. Tony Bennett did a good job of scheduling challenging games, both at home and on the road, and largely avoiding "RPI-killers."

Remember, according to the RPI, beating the #1 team in the nation and the #300 team in the nation is treated approximately the same as beating two #150 teams, though the first feat is undoubtedly more impressive. The idea, therefore, is to load up on games against those mediocre teams, who we will most likely beat, and avoid the real bottom of the barrel. UVA has just 3 games against teams that finished last season with RPIs worse than 250 (Navy, Liberty, and Hampton), compared to 6 last year.

Below is a quick run down of what the schedule looks like, with last season's final KenPom ranking noted. Then, we'll take a closer game-by-game look at what to look for before ACC play begins


Virginia 2012-2013 Out-of-Conference Basketball Schedule

Day Date Opponent Time

2012-2013 KenPom Ranking

Fri. Nov. 8 JMU 7:00 PM 165
Tues. Nov. 12 VCU 7:00 PM 16
Sat. Nov. 16 vs. Davidson (N) Noon 60
Tues. Nov. 19 Navy 7:00 PM 316
Sat. Nov. 23 Liberty 4:00 PM 249
Tues. Nov. 26 Hampton 7:00 PM 276
Fri. Nov. 29 vs. SMU (N) 7:30 PM 180
Sat. Nov. 30 vs. Missouri St. / Texas A&M (N) 6:30 or 9:00 PM 201 / 100
Wed. Dec. 4 Wisconsin 7:00 PM 12
Sat. Dec. 7 @ Wisc-Green Bay 5:00 PM 126
Sat. Dec. 21 Northern Iowa 4:00 PM 74
Mon. Dec. 23 Norfolk State 7:00 PM 214
Mon. Dec. 30 @ Tennessee 7:00 PM 75

"Showdowns":

If the Hoos want to be the best, they have to beat the best. Last season, I called this category "opportunities." However, this year's team shouldn't be happy with the mere chance to go against top competition. They'll have to go out and take care of business against them too. Three games stand out:

vs. VCU: The season gets underway on November 8th, then gets serious fast when the Rams of VCU come to town three days later. This long-awaited matchup will feature a true clash of styles between Shaka Smart's Havoc and Tony Bennett's Packline. Last season, VCU was #1 in the nation at forcing turnovers, with most owing to their dynamic full-court press. The Hoos have had struggles in the past getting the ball across halfcourt, and even more issues attacking the basket; a more talented and experienced squad, plus an entire offseason of scheming, may do the trick. In-state bragging rights would be nice to have, especially after some of Smart's past comments.

vs. Wisconsin: If watching the tempo of VCU makes you feel a bit queasy, this will be a nice reprieve. Last season, the Hoos went on the road and upset the Badgers 60-54. The game was so thrilling that ESPN has decided to treat the nation to another round of fundamental basketball, where EVERY possession will count, in this year's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, this time in Charlottesville.

@ Tennessee: In another rematch of a UVA win last season, Virginia will this time travel to Knoxville to take on what promises to be a tough Volunteer squad. After barely missing the tournament last year, the Vols will be a legitimate top 25 squad led by junior Jarnell Stokes. This will likely be the only out-of-conference game in which UVA will not be favored to win.

"Should-wins," but no pushovers:

I'm putting Davidson in this category, though this one won't be easy. This game will be played in a "neutral"-ish site in Charlotte, NC, against a team that pushed Marquette to the limit as a 14 seed in last season's Tournament. The Wildcats lost players to graduation, so they'll be a step behind last year's team, but cannot be overlooked.

Virginia will take on SMU in the Corpus Christi Challenge. This preseason tournament lacks the big name teams from last season's NIT Season Tip-Off...but averts the possibility for disaster that occurred then too. No teams here will be resume builders, but they won't be RPI killers either With a win, the Hoos will play the winner of the Texas A&M vs. Missouri State matchup.

Virginia returns two Wisconsin-Green Bay games in JPJ by traveling back out to Tony Bennett's old stomping grounds this year. The Hoos easily dispatched the Phoenix the past two years, but will have to stay focused in their first true road game of the season. The series was originally initiated after the commitment of Paul Jesperson, who isn't with us any longer. He will, however, return to Charlottesville as a member of Northern Iowa in late December (though he won't be eligible to play). This was another example of good scheduling, as UNI is a solid squad that could feature a top-100 RPI

Cupcakes:

These are the games that UVA really really really really shouldn't lose to. The season opener will be against a JMU team that made March Madness last year, but will likely drop-off dramatically from that CAA champion team. The Hoos again take on Norfolk State; last season, UVA beat the Spartans in an ugly NIT game at JPJ. In 2011, Virginia required a last-second Assane Sene tip-in. Let's hope it's not close this time.

Navy, Liberty, and Hampton are the three matchups that have the potential to be "true" RPI killers, with all finishing over 250 last season. No need for panic, every team in college basketball will schedule some duds like these. Oh well.

Conclusion:

The Hoos face an improved out-of-conference schedule highlighted by matchups with VCU, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. And, most importantly, it features fewer games against teams that hurt us just by taking the court. Predicting wins and losses at this point is a fool's game. However, a good baseline for what to expect would be 11 wins - going 2-1 against the first category of "showdowns", 4-1 against the "should wins" and sweeping (5-0) the "cupcakes" seems reasonable. Anything less would likely be a disappointment, while a 12-1 or 13-0 (!) start would leave fans with even wilder hopes come January.

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