When you have a young college basketball team you can take one of two paths in your non-conference scheduling. You can either 1) Try to gain confidence (and victories) by playing an easy schedule or 2) Play a difficult schedule and prepare yourself for a rigorous conference season. If you play in the Big East you probably want to do the latter, of course DePaul - as their recently released schedule shows - has picked the former.
The Blue Demons will probably play three teams that were ranked in the Top 85 in the Pomeroy Ratings last season. Those games against Northern Iowa (in the Paradise Jam Tournament), Vanderbilt and Mississippi State (in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational) should be good tests. Beyond those three games though, where will the challenges come from?
Maybe from American? The Eagles did win the Patriot League last season. They gave Villanova
a good run in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But AU's top
three players - Garrison Carr, Derrick Mercer and Brian Gilmore - all
graduated. It will probably be a rebuilding season for them.
from another team in the Paradise Jam Tournament? The Blue Demons seem
to be banking on a first round victory over the Panthers, because
playing in the loser's bracket certainly isn't going to be anything
special. A second round match-up with East Carolina would result. Ho hum.
A schedule that features at least five lower-level Division I squads can certainly be friendly in terms of a wins perspective. Of course a loss to Columbia, Alabama State, Texas State, Florida Gulf Coast or Detroit would be devastating.
An upset of Northern Iowa, Vanderbilt or Mississippi State would be helpful in reestablishing the program's credibility. Also, a victory over the Panthers would set up a possible second round match-up against Tennessee. Three SEC teams on the schedule would be very helpful when it came time for post-season selection.
schedule screams of a desperate attempt to make the NIT. Still, would a
9-3 non-conference record even be enough to offset another poor Big
East season? (Certainly not an 0-18 one, but what about 7-11?)
That remains to be seen. The Big East schedule might be a long one. DePaul better get fat on this non-conference schedule full of cupcakes.