The UConn men’s basketball schedule has improved compared to previous seasons

Although the only notable opponent coming to Connecticut to face the UConn men’s basketball team in non-conference this season is Oklahoma State, Dan Hurley was still able to put together a solid non-conference schedule, more than in previous seasons.

Excluding the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022-23 table is Hurley’s fourth schedule he put together as UConn’s head coach. The Huskies will always face tough opponents at the annual exempt event they attend, in this case the Phil Knight Invitational, which featured a game against Oregon, a top 100 KenPom team, in addition to one from Alabama and Michigan state guaranteed. both NCAA tournament rosters a year ago.

Hurley’s team will also face one of the states of Iowa State, North Carolina, Portland and Villanova in their final game. Portland was the only one of those four not to make the NCAA tournament, while North Carolina and Villanova both made the Final Four.

Including the average of potential opponents for each game in the Phil Knight Invitational, but excluding rotating Division I member Stonehill, these teams’ average KenPom rankings at the end of the previous season is 135, which is 25 places higher than the 2019-20 schedule, a slate with two extra games due to the American Athletic Conference’s 18-game conference schedule. Last year’s list had an average placement of 194.

Last year’s performance certainly isn’t the best measure of opponent strength this season, but it shows Hurley is trying to play a more convincing schedule.

The 2021–22 season saw a mix of the bottom 75 Division I teams at home and elite competitions either at a neutral venue or on the street. The best team the Huskies played at home was LIU, who finished 235th in KenPom. Aside from Binghamton, who was 290th, the remaining four home dates were occupied by under-300 opponents. Meanwhile, the street and neutral portion consisted entirely of top 100 competitions.

While most of the big games this year will be as part of Big East again, the strength of the team’s schedule metrics should be better, which could help get seeded for the NCAA tournament.

While home games outside of Oklahoma state won’t feature heavyweight bouts, they shouldn’t feature many anchors for schedule strength. While Stonehill will write its first Division I chapter against the Huskies, the only other sub-250 team on the schedule is Delaware State. Hurley has tried to take on HBCUs in recent years, up against three last year, and increasing those types of programs is a valuable use of a schedule spot, especially when using the remaining games wisely, which they seem to have been this year.

Buffalo and UNC Wilmington were both in the top 150 last season and Boston University has been a frequent regional opponent with respectable results in recent years. These come in conjunction with a real road game against Florida and a potential trio of top 100 competitive games at the Phil Knight Invitational.

UConn should still come out of their non-conference home games 6-1 at worst, but against teams like Buffalo and UNC Wilmington instead of Binghamton and CCSU, the team should prepare better for the Big East game and could set it up for future success.

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