First Look: Non-Conference Schedule

Luke Winn recently ranked Michigan’s non-conference schedule the eighth toughest in the country. The schedule really has it all — true road games at Kansas and Utah, a premiere preseason tournament, the Big Ten/ACC challenge, and a marquee home game versus Connecticut. And unlike the twisted BCS system that governs college football, on the hardwood you are rewarded for going out and playing the best of the best.

Here is a fly-by look at the teams on Michigan’s non-conference schedule, focusing on the basics (graduation, freshmen, etc.) with some of my first impressions tossed in.  I have listed every team’s Rivals 347 pre-season ranking (only 46-347), last year’s Ken Pomeroy ranking, as well as last year’s RPI.

Nov. 14th — N/A. Northern Michigan – Northern is Division 2 and won’t count positively or, god-forbid, negatively toward Michigan’s RPI. Don’t bother worrying about an upset either, Northern finished 11th in the GLIAC last season.

Nov. 20th — Houston Baptist
Rivals Preseason: 344
08-09 Kenpom: 324
08-09 RPI: 313
HBU comes in at a dreadful 344 out of 347 in the Rivals rankings. It appears to be clear that Michigan will make sure not to challenge themselves too much before they head to Orlando. Rivals notes that HBU only won 5 games last year, and all five were in their final eight games — maybe they got it this winning thing figured out down the stretch last year?

Nov. 26-29 — Old Spice Classic – Full Preview Coming Soon
Michigan/Creighton/Xavier/Marquette/Florida State/Baylor/Iona/Alabama

sanders 27 January 2009: Boston College forward Joe Trapani (12) pulls down one of his game high 9 rebounds in the 2nd half against Maryland forward Dino Gregory (33) at the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland.  The Boston College Eagles defeated the Maryland Terrapins 76-67 after overcoming an 11 point halftime lead by the Terrapins.
Rakim Sanders and Joe Trapani

Dec. 2nd — Boston College
Rivals Preseason: 59
08-09 Kenpom: 69
08-09 RPI: 68
This is a tough game. Boston College loses Tyrese Rice (who absolutely dominated Michigan two years ago in Crisler Arena) but they are still a quality ACC team. Rivals has them slotted as a bubble team which seems reasonable. This is the biggest home game before the conference season and I think it is fair to expect a raucous crowd. The good news for the Eagles is that their four starters not named Tyrese Rice were sophomores last year and all return.

Michigan fans will notice a couple familiar faces in their starting lineup – Josh Southern from his days at Saginaw High and Joe Trapani, who chose to transfer to Boston College instead of Michigan . Versatile wing forward Rakim Sanders should be the guy tasked with filling the scoring void left by Rice.

Dec. 5th — Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Rivals Preseason: 202
08-09 Kenpom: 311
08-09 RPI: 250
Pine Bluff had a shocking 17 players play in 5 games or more while not carrying a single senior on their roster. Terrance Calvin was their only double digit scorer but he shot 38.6% from the field. Rivals calls the Golden Lions a player in the SWAC title run but I guess that’s why it’s the SWAC.

utesJon M. Huntsman Center

Dec. 9th — at Utah
Rivals Preseason: 93
08-09 Kenpom: 30
08-09 RPI: 13
Utah was very good last year. They abused the MWC en route to a 5 seed in the NCAA tournament behind now graduated 7-foot-2 big man Luke Nevill. The Utes will be in rebuilding mode this year as they graduated their top four scorers and will rely on a multitude of inexperienced players. The downside for Michigan: it’s a true road game half way across the country against a team that was 18-2 at home last year.

Dec. 13th — Detroit
Rivals Preseason:
251
08-09 Kenpom:
279
08-09 RPI
: 281
U of D has struggled over the last two years and Ray McCallum has plenty of work to do. The Titans will rely on a pair of Indiana transfers in Xavier Keeling and Eli Holman. The Harris/Keeling matchup could be interesting and Holman gives UofD a talented big man that you wouldn’t expect to see in the Horizon League.

collings-adrichSherron Collins and Cole Aldrich

Dec. 19th — at Kansas
Rivals Preseason:
N/A, Consensus Top 3
08-09 Kenpom:
10
08-09 RPI: 11
This Kansas team is special. They are the kind of team that you dread seeing on your schedule. Expectations in Lawrence are national championship or bust, they simply have too much talent to accept anything less. Last year’s Kansas team was good, this team will be great. All of last year’s starters return including the inside-outside combination of Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich. Not to mention two five star guards, Xavier Henry and Elijah Johnson, will be added to the mix. Jeff Goodman recently listed them as one of the three deepest teams in America, noting that their 13th man Trevor Releford would start for numerous high-major schools.

Dec. 22nd — Coppin State
Rivals Preseason:
300
08-09 Kenpom:
266
08-09 RPI
: 219
Coppin State was bad last year and they lost their best player, 2009 MEAC player of the year Tywain McKee, and to make matters worse no one else on last year’s team scored in double figures.

dyson walker
Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker

Jan. 17th — UConn
Rivals Preseason: N/A, Top 25-ish
08-09 Kenpom:
3
08-09 RPI: 5
UConn will be an interesting team next year. They lose a significant chunk of last year’s Final Four core in Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, and AJ Price but they still have a significant amount of talent. Jerome Dyson returns and is ready to lead. Dyson should gel with sophomore Kemba Walker to form a strong backcourt. In the front court Stanley Robinson provides unlimited athleticism. The Huskies also bring in three top 100 recruits in center Alex Oriakhi, wing forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, and point guard Darius Smith. UConn is probably not a final four team but they should have the pieces to be one of the better teams in a rebuilding Big East conference. For much more on UConn, check out Villanova by the Numbers’ comprehensive preview of the Huskies.

  • BL11

    big time schedule…gotta love every aspect of what beilein is doing here (coaching/scheduling/recruiting/reputation etc.)

  • Harry

    Wow…good luck in Lawrence

  • http://lifeondumars.com/ Ryan

    Hopefully Cronin will be able to body Aldrich a little.

    Amaker never had a schedule as challenging as this.

  • Tom, Too.

    I’ll be there…should be pretty fun.

  • Tom, Too.

    http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1463464.html

    See the kind of players other coaches recruit….Kansas.

  • Wes Mantooth

    I love the tough schedule. There are a whole lot of games I’m looking forward to this season…

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