We've known for a while that the 'Cats will play the Cancun Challenge, but on Thursday we got the full slate of non-conference games:
- November 7: vs. Chicago State Cougars (KP 340)
- November 11: vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (KP 297)
- November 15: at Georgetown Hoyas (KP 175) [Gavitt Games]
- November 18: vs. Purdue-Fort Wayne Mastodons (KP 237) [Cancun MTE campus site game]
- November 22: Cancun MTE vs. Liberty Shaminstitutions (KP 124)
- November 23: Cancun MTE vs. Bradley Braves (KP 96) or Auburn Tigers (KP 12)
- November 28: vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (KP 195) [B1G-ACC Challenge]
- December 11: vs. Prairie View A&M Panthers (KP 281)
- December 17: vs. DePaul Blue Demons (KP 103) [THE MAYOR'S KEY!]
- December 20: vs. UIC Flames (KP 287)
- December 29: vs. Brown Bears (KP 204)
A reminder of the Quad system of the NCAA's NET ranking:
Things I Like
- A shot at a decent opponent in Cancun. The Fucking Falwells are a disappointing draw in round 1, and while we'd obviously prefer Auburn in the finals, a borderline Top 100 and Quad 2 opponent in Bradley isn't the worst consolation prize imaginable.
- Ramping up nicely. It's a soft open to the season, with a road test in Georgetown's morgue as we build to tests against Bennettball and whoever else in Cancun.
- Shopping locally. If we're going to look for cupcakes in the 250+ range of Kenpom (or, really, ANY Quad 4 wins), and we are (if you're a moron who thinks otherwise, just move on and don't waste our time), I am on the record as preferring to see local clubs. It looks like Chicago State has shored up some of its rank incompetence, NIU and UIC are no different from the New Orleans or Houston Baptist games of years past, and who knows, in the right year there's a smidge of local intrigue.
- See also: DePaul. It's a mess, but it's our beautiful "rivalry" mess. BRING BACK THE MAYOR'S KEY, BOYS.
Things I Don't Like
- The "Big Names" underwhelm. Decent chance none of Patrick Ewing, Jeff Capel, or Chris Collins are employed next year. A Georgetown-Pitt slate in the Gavitt/ACC section is not only eye-gougingly bad basketball, but it's a nightmare for NET. Winning at G'town is likely Quad 3, winning at home against Pitt last year would've been Quad 4.
- No ambitious home-and-homes. Outside the Big Ten making Northwestern Wildcats play the Challenges or convention dictating we do an MTE, nothing here even moderately smacks of ambition. I'd love to see the 'Cats schedule more like Penn State (last year at UMass, at VCU) than Nebraska or Rutgers. Regional teams like Marquette Golden Eagles, Loyola-Chicago, Saint Louis...even aim a little higher at an Iowa State or Notre Dame. A home-and-home would offer something interesting for those teams' Chicago-area alumni, too.
This feels like a lot of "same shit, different season" from Chris Collins and the 'Cats. A couple chances for a win, but a schedule that really requires the heavy lifting to be done in the Big Ten conference slate. For a team that hasn't won more than 6 B1G games in a season since 2016-17...uh...
My Grade: C