Finally, the game contracts were finalized, and Penn State released the 2011-2012 non-conference portion of the men's basketball schedule on Tuesday afternoon. Most of the schedule had been known before, but it is nice to finally have the complete list of the 31 opponents the Lions will face in Patrick Chambers' inaugural season.
Before Chambers receives the credit for crafting this slate, it must be made known that this was Ed DeChellis and his staff's work. Ole Miss, St. Joe's, and Duquesne are all returns of home-and-home series signed under DeChellis. Boston College obviously is PSU's ESPN challenge contest. And credit Ed for getting PSU into another exempt tournament with Kentucky, despite the previous regime's record in such events. It's always nice to have an extra couple of games of basketball under your belt before conference play. Even if it means overloading the beginning of the schedule (seriously, 5 games in 9 days?!).
Without further adieu:
|11/19/2011||vs Kentucky*||12:00 PM|
|11/20/2011||vs S. Florida/Old Dominion*||2:00 PM|
|11/26/2011||at St. Joseph's||TBD|
|11/30/2011||at Boston College#||TBD|
|12/18/2011||Mount St. Mary's||TBD|
^Exhibition *Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic # Big Ten/ACC Challenge
All of the times/locations will be finalized after TV contracts. What has been confirmed is the Hartford basketball/Nebraska football game doubleheader on November 12th. It's now just a matter of what time each will be played (likely that basketball will be at 11:30, with football kicking off at 3:30), but it's cool to see PSU offering free admission for everyone to draw interest in the start of the Chambers' Era.
I personally love this schedule, regardless of what the RPI/SOS numbers turn out being. Boston College will be replacing their entire NIT squad (full of Al Skinner's players) that won 21 games last year, while Ole Miss loses their own Talor Battle, with Chris Warren graduating. I like the exposure on the road in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia against in-state A-10 foes (who we really should play more often). Thrown in are a couple of quality games in the HOF Tip-Off Classic, including possible preseason #1 Kentucky, and the rest is filled out with winnable guarantee games.
The full schedule will be released in August with the addition of the Big Ten slate. With Nebraska joining the conference, there will still be 18 conference games, but with 4 one-plays this season instead of two. PSU received this draw:
Home: Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, and Northwestern
Away: Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Michigan, and Northwestern
With Nebraska, Iowa, and Northwestern on the schedule twice and Ohio State and Michigan State just once, it's safe to say PSU made out in the end. I think the schedule sets up favorably for PSU to have a good chance at reaching .500, but it's ridiculously early to get started with wins predictions.
For those looking for a breakdown of potential RPI impact and which opponent is returning who, there will be a post breaking down these opponents and projecting their RPI when the season nears. For now, kudos Ed DeChellis, for not screwing us over this time. Get some season tickets, people!