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Reaction to Penn State Basketball's Non-Conference Slate

Well it's July, and believe it or not, there aren't many people talking about Penn State basketball.

The ones that are, though, are submitting mixed reviews of the Nittany Lions' newly released 2010-2011 non-conference schedule.

First, reaction from Ryan at Linebacker U who isn't crazy about it.

My initial thoughts...YAWN! Just three teams from major conferences. And one of those, Maryland, was guaranteed as part of the Big 10 ACC Challenge. Forgive me if I'm not excited by Virginia Tech or Mississippi, neither of which managed to make the NCAA Tournament last year. And Maryland? Greivis Vasquez, last I checked, was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies.


But this schedule does very little for me. It may be better than the '08-'09 season, but I give it an overall grade of a C+.

The 2008-2009 season Ryan talks about, of course, was Penn State's NIT championship season, during which the Lions were snubbed out of an NCAA Tournament bid in large part because of their weak non-conference opponents. The worst part of that year's schedule was that, as we talked about yesterday, Penn State hung a lot of its RPI hopes on an ill-fated match up with Villanova in the Philly Hoops Classic.

That upside doesn't exist in the 2011 schedule. Penn State is playing the teams on the page, so that could be a strike against it.

The CDT took a decidedly more positive outlook on things yesterday morning, calling it "tougher."

Penn State men's basketball coach Ed DeChellis has received far more criticism for the non-conference schedules his team has put together in recent years than he has for any game-time coaching decision.

But the Nittany Lions’ latest non-con slate, released Wednesday by the university, shouldn’t put them at any major RPI disadvantage.

Eight of the 11 opponents, including 2010 NCAA Tournament teams Maryland and Lehigh, had winning records last season, and all but Furman (278) and Central Connecticut State (309) had 2010 RPI of at least 184.

Penn State finished the season with an RPI of 194.

Despite the more positive tone, though, "shouldn't put [Penn State] at a major RPI disadvantage" is hardly a ringing endorsement.

In fact, CDT readers are even less optimistic about the schedule's chances of being a positive for Penn State. As of this posting, more than half of respondents in a reader's poll attached to the article say the non-conference slate is still too weak.

Victory Bell Rings broke down the schedule last week after several opponents were leaked before the schedule was officially announced.
For the most part this is the schedule Penn State needs. Tough games on the road, and teams that should win a good number of games in their own conference. Only time will really tell how this will play out, but for right now things aren’t looking as bad as they could.
Finally, there is a considerably long thread about the schedule going on at The reactions are all over the board there.

Commenter Finding Forrester...

In my opinion there are no great games, but several decent games (Maryland, VT, Ole Miss, Fairfield, Duquesne, St Joes), a couple toss up games (Lehigh, MSM, Radford) and two most likely really bad games (CCS and Furman). Just shooting from the hip, I bet you get 7 games against teams in the top 200 RPI (which is pretty good), 2 more in the 200-250 range and then 2 over 250. I don't like the games against CCS and Furman but I guess I really can't complain otherwise except that there's no wow factor to the schedule. Also, I had visions of BYU and the 76 Classic so I think I was going to be somewhat unhappy regardless.

I'm guessing we go 7-4 against that schedule.

It would appear that like most things with Penn State basketball, many are lukewarm at best with this schedule. The general consensus seems to be it's not an incredibly challenging schedule, but it's probably right about where Penn State needs it to be to balance their competitive ability and their chances of making the NCAA tournament.