Loyola (Ill.)'s men's basketball schedule is out and I think it's a passable schedule for a decent mid-major that is hoping to compete in the Horizon League this season and hopefully reach the postseason. (Which I think is what Loyola's goals are / should be.) Well, except for one rather odd decision.
The Ramblers could've maybe used one more road test, but trips to Kalamazoo, Michigan - to take on Western Michigan - and San Francisco - to play the Dons - should provide them with some tests outside of the Gentile Center.
Of course the Gentile Center is the big selling point for this season and with it comes a number of high-profile opponents at home. Loyola will take on Butler and Frank Martin's (left) Kansas State in a 10-day period during a four-game home stand. Of course that home stand also includes SIU-Edwardsville, but the Ramblers needed a lighter game sometime during that stretch.
That stretch though isn't enough to explain the big question mark in the schedule, but more about that after the jump.
The previously mentioned cross-town match-up versus DePaul at Allstate Arena is acceptable and so might be a visit to Texas Pan-American in December before Horizon League play kicks in for good, except for one thing.
The Ramblers kick off play with an exhibition game against Robert Morris on November 6. They're then hosting mini-tournament with Eastern Kentucky, Indiana State and Texas Pan-American. Yes, Loyola is playing the Broncs twice. (They're not the only Chicago team that will either, but Chicago State has an excuse - both teams are part of the Great West Conference. In a weird series of events, Northwestern will be playing the Broncs in Texas this season as well.)
Playing Texas Pan-American, which did give Northwestern a decent game but ranked 325th in the Pomeroy rankings last season, is pretty confusing. It's going to be a big hit to the Ramblers' RPI, and that might be important come selection Sunday when bids go out for tournaments like the CBI and CIT. I don't know for sure, but Loyola must've been desperate to fill its early tournament if it agreed to play the Broncs twice this season.
Other interesting thing worth noting in the schedule: There are just two power conference teams on the entire thing. Loyola will play DePaul (from the Big East) and Kansas State (from the Big 12), but otherwise it's a bit of alphabet soup in terms of conference affiliations. Considering Loyola might even be able to beat DePaul, the Ramblers were obviously trying to put together a schedule that would help the team reach the magical 20-win plateau. We'll see if they get there.