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There's Plenty to Like in UVa's Out of Conference Schedule

With Wahoos Basketball just around the corner, let's take a look at the daunting slate of out of conference opponents on the 2015-2016 schedule.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Before Tony Bennett's Hoos can win another ACC title, they'll gear up playing a ton of strong out of conference teams. While there's a few cupcakes on the schedule, come March, no one will be noting a weak strength of schedule during the tournament seeding debates. The Wahoos have some daunting road games, a neutral site match up against top 30 program, and host last year's Big East Champions. Check out this breakdown of the entire OOC schedule:

11/13 - Morgan State

Morgan State finished second to last in the MEAC last year, compiling only seven total wins. They also finished 313th in points scored per game and 350th in FG %. Needless to say, the Bears are going to have a tough trip to Cville regardless of any returning/incoming talent.

11/16 - @George Washington

The difficulty in the OOS schedule jumps up in game two, as the Hoos travel up route 29 to visit GW. The Colonials are picked to finished 4th in A10 this year, coming off a 6th place finish last season. GW expects big things from Wake Forest transfer Tyler Cavanaugh this year and should provide the Hoos with a strong test on the road early in the year.

11/19 – Bradley

I’ve always hated Bradley since they ended Sean Singletary’s UVa career in the CBI way back when. Thankfully, UVa is a much better team these days and Bradley is much much worse. The Braves finished last in their conference last season, 346th in PPG in the NCAA, and 347th in FG%. If the Hoos slip up in DC, they’ll have a nice rebound game at home to come back to.

11/25 – Lehigh

Ask the Duke Blue Devils, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks are no slouch. After finishing third in the Patriot league last year, Lehigh returns both of their top scorers from last year. Look for the team to challenge for the Patriot league title this year, but probably leave Cville with a loss.

12/1 - @Ohio State

Yes we know you love Mark Titus, we all love Mark Titus. But don’t listen to him, Ohio State isn’t that good. They finished 6th in the Big 14 last season, even with super frosh D’Angelo Russell, and this year have an absurdly young team. Of course, five of this year’s freshmen are 4 star recruits, so there’s plenty of talent coming into Columbus. At any rate, this will be a tough game for the Hoos on the road, against a talented team with a raucous crowd.

12/5 – William & Mary

A 2pm basketball game! Afternoon games are so weird, right? It’s hard to duplicate the energy of a night game – especially against an underrated opponent. Luckily, the Hoos can draw on the INSTATE RIVALRY to get hyped for this game. The Tribe are coming off a great year, finishing tied atop the Colonial, but have lost star guard Marcus Thorton to graduation.

12/8 – West Virginia

Another OOC away (well, neutral location) game against a brand name opponent. DID JON OLIVER DO THIS?!? Just kidding, we’re awesome, we should play anyone anywhere anytime. But yes, WVU is a decent squad. They finished 4th in the Big 12 last year, but will need to replace Juwan Staten’s scoring. Bob Huggins is a fantastic coach in my opinion and I fully expect the ‘Neers to finish in the top 25-30 range this season.

12/19 – Villanova

Good lord, we play ‘Nova too? AT NOON? At least this one is at home. Will the West End RVA fans make the trip in time for tipoff? Let’s hope so, because this match up against the defending Big East champions should be a great one. The Wildcats tend to play small – but considering forward Daniel Ochefu, we might see a different look this year from Jay Wright’s team. Last year, Nova was great at scoring, but not so good at rebounding, so look for UVa’s big men to try and force the issue in the paint.

12/22 – California

Cal! Another name brand team visiting The Hook this season – though coming off a disappointing finish in 14-15. Did you know: Cal’s coach, Cuonzo Martin, brought in two potential first round picks this year in Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown? There’s plenty of talent on the Bears’ roster – but talent and youth don’t usually guarantee success against the packline defense. I’ll take the veteran home team, but don’t be surprised if Cal makes it close – or pulls out a W.

12/30 – Oakland

Pop quiz: Which state is Oakland University in? Answer: Michigan! Go figure. The Grizzlies had a strong offense last year, finishing 40th in the country in PPG, but weren’t very good at rebounding the ball. They’ve lost their best big man in Corey Petros to professional ball in Bulgaria, but do return leading scorer Kahlil Felder. UVa should be able to handle their final OOC match up, but don’t expect a cake walk.

While I know most Wahoo fans will expect a 10-0 run to start the year, even an 8-2 record in this stretch would be impressive for any team. Of course, what really matters are the ACC results, but this out of conference slate sets UVa up to be prepared for the conference games, strengthens their resume when the time comes for tournament seeding, and puts them on national television early and often in the year. Big time programs should always be playing big time games, so it's nice to see the program act accordingly.*

*(I present this without comment on the football team).