Easiest varsity basketball calendars 2021-22: Minnesota, Iowa, Rutgers face weakest non-conference lists

Records in college basketball can be misleading because unlike most professional sports leagues where there is a minimal gap in schedule strength, there is great variation in the level of schedule that teams play each season in. college basketball. While some coaches choose to build robust non-conference rosters meant to test and showcase their teams and create playoff resumes, others keep it low-key to build confidence and rack up wins.

We covered some of the toughest non-conference programs in college basketball last week. But now it’s time to highlight some programs that are going the easy way – or maybe the smart way – in the coming season with light non-conference schedules.

It’s probably no coincidence that the easiest three all belong to the Big Ten teams. The Big Ten have been a particularly brutal basketball conference in recent seasons, with their 20-game league roster providing little respite for struggling teams. For bad teams, this can make racking up non-conference wins all the more important. But even good Big Ten teams can get by with poor non-conference schedules, as they still have plenty of opportunities to craft an NCAA tournament resume during conference games.

Here’s a look at the five easiest non-conference programs played by powerful conference teams this season. All team rankings outside of the AP Top 25 are taken from Matt Norlander’s 1-358 rankings.

November 9: vs. Kansas City – 218
November 12: vs. Western Kentucky (neutral) – 85
November 14: South Carolina or Princeton (neutral) – 129/167
November 19: vs. Purdue Fort Wayne – 280
November 24: vs. Jacksonville – 311
November 30: vs. Pittsburgh – 108
December 5: in the state of Mississippi – 51
December 14: vs. Texas A&M Corpus Christi – 300
December 22: against Green Bay – 318
December 29: against Alcorn State – 355

Minnesota’s non-conference schedule is rightly terrible given what the Gophers face this season. Freshman coach Ben Johnson is rebuilding the roster almost from scratch, and this team need to pick up a few wins where they can before the grind of a 20-game Big Ten slate arrives. But when your toughest enemy outside the league is the State of Mississippi, you more or less recognize that creating a resume is an irrelevant concept.

November 9: against Longwood – 243
November 12: vs. Kansas City – 218
November 16: vs. North Carolina Central – 336
November 18: against the State of Alabama – 348
November 22: vs. West Michigan – 238
November 26: vs. Portland State – 299
November 29: at n ° 25 Virginia
December 9: in the state of Iowa – 148
December 18: against the State of Utah (neutral) – 58
December 21: against Southeast Louisiana – 233
December 29: vs. West Illinois – 305

It will take some time for the Hawkeyes to adjust to life without 2021 Naismith Player of the Year and program legend Luka Garza. The good news is that they will have plenty of time to do this. Iowa opens with six home games against teams ranked 200 or worse by Norlander. It is highly likely that those six games will be in the Quad 4 category by the end of the season. Even the “hard” part of Iowa’s non-conference schedule isn’t that hard. Virginia is hardly the imposing clash it was a few seasons ago, and Iowa State is so far away it won’t be a repeat game for the Hawkeyes.

November 10: vs. Lehigh – 278
November 13: against Merrimack – 248
November 16: vs. NJIT – 324
November 18: at DePaul’s – 131
November 22: against Lafayette – 273
November 27: in Massachusetts – 121
November 30: vs. Clemson – 65
December 12: at Seton Hall – 37
December 18: against Rider – 304
December 23: against the Central State of Connecticut – 345
December 29: against Maine – 354

Rutgers’ build quality picks up over the past two seasons, despite low-key non-conference schedules. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But the Scarlet Knights are established enough at this point to manage a roster that has someone better than Seton Hall serving as a high-profile opponent outside the league. At the very least, they could trade some of the low-level traffic going through Piscataway for a few more decent games. As it stands, Rutgers will likely play seven non-conference Quad 4 games.

November 9: Dartmouth – 282
November 12: Sainte-Croix – 297
November 14: Fairfield – 294
November 17: in Rhode Island – 93
Nov 20 vs. Utah (neutral) – 103
November 21: against Tulsa OR Rhode Island (neutral) 150/93
November 26: against Columbia – 257
November 29: vs. South Florida – 189
December 11: vs in Saint Louis – 66
Dec 13 vs. Albany – 268

Boston College is in the same boat as Minnesota, with a new coach and a revamped roster playing a lightweight non-conference program. That makes sense, as ACC play is going to be a nasty chore for the Eagles. Road games against Rhode Island and Saint Louis and a neutral site contest against Utah are at least decent games.

November 9: vs. Northern Illinois – 217
November 11: vs. Northern Arizona – 327
November 15: against Texas Southern – 194
November 18: vs. Wyoming – 173
November 22: against George Mason (neutral) – 166
November 23: vs. South Dakota State (neutral) – 107
November 24: against Nevada (neutral) – 54
November 27: against Winthrop – 138
December 12: at n ° 1 Gonzague
December 18: vs. Seattle – 162
December 31: vs. Utah Valley – 263

Washington gets credit for playing Gonzaga, but other than that it’s a light load on the Huskies. Nine of their 11 non-conference opponents are ranked outside of Norlander’s Top 100, and the Zags are the only ones in the Top 25 AP. Considering that this team just finished a 5-21 season, it makes sense that they are playing an easier schedule. It also makes sense to round out the wins for fifth-year coach Mike Hopkins, who probably doesn’t have a ton of leash left at this point.


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Joseph D. Whitman

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