Rating The Pac-12 Non-Conference Schedules

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 29th, 2012

Non-conference play will tip off in just under two weeks. Here’s your Pac-12 primer.

Washington (Full Schedule Here)

Washington Hasn’t Performed Well in the Non-Conference Recently (AP)

  • Toughest Game – @ Connecticut, December 29
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Ohio State, November 18
  • Easiest Game – Jackson State, December 15
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – For a team going through a possible rebuilding year, there are a few spots other than the obvious ones (Connecticut, Ohio State/Rhode Island) where Washington could trip up and play itself out of an at-large bid before we even reach January. The obvious one is a meeting with Seton Hall in Uncasville, Connecticut, where they will be making a significantly farther trip from Seattle than the Pirates face from South Orange. Brian Oliver and Fuquan Edwin’s three-point range will give SHU a chance to upset the Huskies. The two other interesting games come at home within just five days of each other; first a visit from Colorado State, then a rematch from last year’s upset in Missouri against Saint Louis.

Washington State (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – vs Kansas, November 19
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Saint Louis, November 20
  • Easiest Game – Arkansas-Pine Bluff, November 24
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – Some people are going to see the trio of Kansas, Saint Louis/Texas A&M, and Gonzaga and wonder why this slate isn’t rated higher. All you have to do is just look at the rest of the schedule. The argument could be made that a game against a Pepperdine team that finished 2011-12 with a 10-19 record is the toughest game left. Not good.

Oregon (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – @ UNLV, November 23
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Cincinnati, November 24
  • Easiest Game – Northern Arizona, November 10
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 3
  • Overview – Behind that two-day stretch in late-November is a lot of smoke and mirrors on Oregon’s slate. Sophomore Kedren Johnson, who wasn’t even part of the Dores’ seven-man rotation last year, will be looked at to lead Vanderbilt to maybe a spot on the NIT bubble come March. The only other power conference team is Nebraska, a team that will struggle to get out of the Big Ten basement all year long.
Oregon State (Full Schedule)
  • Toughest Game – vs Kansas, November 30
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Purdue, November 16
  • Easiest Game – Towson, December 29
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – This schedule would have looked much better last year, as four of the teams on it played in last March’s NCAA  Tournament. Instead, only one of them is projected by most to make this year’s field. If you’re looking for an off-the-radar trap game, watch out for San Diego in a game to be played in Las Vegas just a couple of hours after the Las Vegas Bowl ends. Assuming the Beaver football team isn’t playing down the road the same day, sophomore Johnny Dee and the Toreros could trip up Oregon State in front of a small Vegas crowd.

California (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – @ Wisconsin, December 2
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Saint Mary’s, November 25
  • Easiest Game – Prairie View A&M,  December 22
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 5
  • Overview – California could very well have the toughest five-game stretch of any Pac-12 team, with possible games against Georgia Tech and Saint Mary’s on back-to-back days, followed by known games at Wisconsin and home against UNLV and Creighton. Head coach Mike Montgomery did a good job of getting opponents from states like Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Massachusetts (and possibly Georgia). The next step is beating those teams and getting some national recognition as they enter conference play.

Ryan Evans And The Badgers Will Provide A Stiff Road Test For California (credit: Badger Nation)

Stanford (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – @ NC State, December 18
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Louisville, November 23
  • Easiest Game – Lafayette, December 29
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – That four rating could easily jump one or two spots if the Cardinal face both Louisville and Duke in late November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Besides for the trip to Paradise Island, the slate is highlighted by a two-game, cross-country road trip where Stanford will take on NC State and Northwestern. That’s an unbelievably tough five games, and if Johnny Dawkins can emerge with at least a 2-3 record, the Cardinal will likely hold their place as a fringe Top 25 team heading into conference play.

USC (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – San Diego State, November 25
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs North Carolina, November 21
  • Easiest Game – UC Riverside, December 15
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 6
  • Overview – Toughest non-conference schedule in the Pac-12? It very well could be. Besides for the in-state rivalry against San Diego State and a possible meeting with North Carolina in Lahaina, the Trojans will face Illinois at a neutral site, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Georgia on the road, and Minnesota and Dayton in Los Angeles.

UCLA (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – vs San Diego State, December 1
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Indiana, November 20
  • Easiest Game – Cal State Northridge, November 28
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 5
  • Overview – While San Diego State and a possible game against arguably the top team in the nation highlight this year’s slate, dotted throughout the schedule are solid teams like Georgetown, Texas, and Missouri. For the Bruins to establish themselves as a Final Four threat, they’ll need to find a way to go 4-1 in those five games. Watch out for a Keala King-led Long Beach State club as a possible trap game for UCLA.

Arizona (Full Schedule)

The Gators Are a Tough Early Test for the Wildcats

  • Toughest Game – Florida, December 15
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs San Diego State, December 25
  • Easiest Game – Northern Arizona, November 28
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 5
  • Overview – I’m going to go ahead and call this one of the more underrated non-conference slates in the league. Of course, it’s Florida and everyone else, but there are definitely some interesting games mixed in. Arizona opens up the season with a matchup against a very Bucknell-like team in Charleston Southern. The 2012-13 Wildcats would blow last year’s squad out of the water, but still, they need to be on their A game on opening night. Trips into hostile locales like Lubbock, Clemson, and Honolulu should have the team on high alert as well.

Arizona State (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – vs Arkansas, November 23
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Creighton, November 24
  • Easiest Game – Florida A&M, November 18
  • 1-10 Difficulty Rating – 4
  • Overview – This schedule is floating on the borderline of the worst in the conference. They’ll get a pair of stiff tests in Las Vegas (listed above), and I guess a trip to Lubbock and a game in Tempe against DePaul aren’t awful, but the rest of the slate is laughable. Just look at the 11-day stretch from late November into early January: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Sacramento State, Hartford, Cal State Northridge.

Utah (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – @ BYU, December 8
  • Toughest Possible Game – N/A
  • Easiest Game – College of Idaho, December 28
  • 1-10 Rating – 3
  • Overview – Looking at Arizona State’s and Utah’s schedules back-to-back can be downright depressing. The slate is book-ended with visits from Willamette and the College of Idaho, two teams that went a combined 15-40 against Division III and NAIA competition in 2011-12. It doesn’t get much better in-between. Outside of the Holy War game at BYU, the Utes toughest game will probably be a visit to Dallas to face Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs.

Colorado (Full Schedule)

  • Toughest Game – @ Kansas, December 8
  • Toughest Possible Game – vs Baylor, November 16
  • Easiest Game – Northern Arizona, December 21
  • 1-10 Rating – 5
  • Overview – Does it just look that way after the ASU-Utah debacle, or does Colorado have a sneaky good schedule? I think it’s the latter. The Buffaloes face a Dayton team one year removed from an NIT berth in their second game, then have a possible matchup with a good Baylor club the very next day. They could face any one of four solid teams in the final round of the Charleston Classic before closing non-conference play with games at Wyoming, Kansas, and Fresno State mixed in there. These 12 games will certainly help prepare the Buffs for their second year of Pac-12 conference play.

Final Tally

  • Toughest Game – Colorado @ Kansas, December 8
  • Toughest Possible Game – UCLA vs Indiana, November 20
  • Easiest Game – College of Idaho @ Utah, December 28
  • 1-120 Rating – 52
Connor Pelton (300 Posts)

I'm from Portland. College basketball and football is life.

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