The Cal Men’s Basketball Schedule for next year was released today, and gosh, well, what can I say? Here’s what Braun has to say about the schedule:
"We played one of the strongest schedules in the country last year, and this year’s schedule could be even more difficult," said Braun. "We will face some very strong teams from good conferences, and the Pac-10 will be as challenging as ever. It is a schedule I believe our fans will really enjoy."
Not sure about that last one, Ben. There are some OK games on this schedule, and yes, it’s more difficult that the names might suggest, but there’s nothing on the non-conference slate that makes me break out the TiVo. In a word? Yawn. Lets run down the schedule (with last year’s record/RPI):
Southern Miss (20-11; RPI 129). OK, this isn’t bad, especially for the first game. Not a killer game, but it could definitely be competitive.
Nicholls State (8-22; RPI 292). This is the real dud on the schedule. A terrible team I’ve never heard of (I had to look up that they’re from Louisiana), I really hate that Cal continues to schedule games like this.
San Diego State (22-11; RPI 66). The Aztecs are a good team, beating Cal last year in San Diego. This will be the fourth straight year Cal plays San Diego State, and I’d be all for Cal creating some sort of non-conference rivalry with a decent, local mid-major.
@ Nevada (29-5; RPI 23; WAC Champ). One of only two non-conference road games for Cal, and a pretty tough one at that, although how tough remains to be seen; Nevada loses Nick Fazekas to the NBA, and may lose Ramon Sessions as well. This is a return game for last year’s Pete Newell Challenge.
Missouri (18-12; RPI 93). I’m a big fan of the Pac-10 / Big 12 Challenge. More exposure for the conferences, and it guarantees every team gets a major-conference game on its non-coference schedule. That said, this particular matchup is pretty tepid, and will probably be (rightfully)overlooked by the national media.
Jackson State (21-14; RPI 168; SWAC Champ). Yes, they’re a reigning conference champion, but do you know which state Jackson State is from? Not a terrible team, but man, I really don’t care.
@ Kansas State (23-11; RPI 56). A return game from last year’s blowout in Haas. I like this game, and I look for
Bob Huggins‘ team to give Cal a much bigger challenge this year. In fact, I’d be surprised if Cal pulled this one out.
Delaware State (21-13; RPI 120). Well, I do know which state this school is in. That said, I’d still never heard of Delaware State. Yeah, Cal seems to schedule a lot of those. Meh.
Utah (11-19; RPI 132). Clearly not a great team since Andrew Bogut left. In theory, I’m for scheduling Utah; a big school from a conference I’ve heard of. In practice, this team isn’t very good, and for that, the schedule makers get a demerit.
Golden Bear Classic
Bucknell (22-9; RPI 77)
Long Beach State (24-8; RPI 79; Big West Champ)
North Dakota State (20-8; RPI 160)
Would you pay to see a two-day tournament involving Cal and these three teams? I know I wouldn’t. Clearly, Cal has not heeded my advice regarding the GBC scheduling; these teams are neither big name nor local. C’mon, if this bunch is the best you can do, just scrap the tournament already.
Notably missing is any mention of the Pete Newell Challenge. Is that still happening? Is Cal participating? There appears to be an opening in the schedule around Christmastime, but perhaps that’s just so players can spend Christmas with their families. Normally, the Pete Newell challenge is a great opportunity for Cal to get a good (almost) home game against a big-time opponent; if it’s off the schedule, someone has really dropped the ball.
Overall, I’m underwhelmed. If you’re going to schedule teams like Delaware State, you’ve got to schedule some really good teams for fans to focus on. You know why no one’s complaining that the football team is playing a cupcake like Louisiana Tech this year? Because they’re all focused on the rematch with Tennessee.
Also, while only two road games is great for selling tickets, it certainly won’t impress the NCAA selection committee. Now, those are some tough roadies, so if Cal can pull them out, great. But if not, zero non-conference road wins is hardly something you want on the resume, no matter how tough those games were.
Final assessment : tougher than it looks, but it looks pretty boring. Grade : C+.