Since our conference performed so pitifully last year, I thought it would be helpful to go through all the important non-con games. As we all know, better performance here will likely result in more teams selected to the NCAA tournament. In parsing each team’s non-con schedule down to the important ones, I’m assuming that our teams will beat the "cupcakes," though we all know just how certain those wins are. I consider any true road game against a team with a pulse as important, and I didn’t consider tournament games beyond the guaranteed ones. The games are listed below by team and with predicted results from Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. The most important winnable game for each team is in bold, except I cheated and did two for WSU. Keep an eye on these games as they come up, and root for the Pac-10 to do well (yes, even that team). I’ll try to update the list with actual results at the end of the main non-con part of the season.
Nov. 23 Portland (semi-home), 68-64 W
Nov. 26 at Fresno State, 70-58 W
Dec. 3 Kansas State, 68-70 L
Dec. 8 Gonzaga, 71-70 W
Dec. 19 at Santa Clara, 69-66 W
Dec. 22 Mississippi State (neutral), 68-67 W
* Ken says the Portland game is neutral, likely because it’s equal distance from both schools. But I am pretty sure it’s going to be a crimson crowd at Key Arena and thus have labeled it a semi-home game. Ken also sees our only non-con loss being the home game against KSU, but notice how close all of these important games are supposed to be. If we can manage to win one of the two bold games and three of the other four, we'll be in good shape with a top 5 conference finish to sneak into the NCAA tournament.
Nov. 23 Virginia, 74-67 W
Dec. 4 Texas Tech, 85-73 W
Dec. 6 Portland, 82-66 W
Dec. 11 at Texas A&M, 73-74 L
Dec. 22 Nevada, 89-64 W
* Ken seems to think the Huskies will have little trouble with the exception of @A&M, which should indeed be a good game and a key matchup for comparing big conferences at the end of the year.
Nov. 20 New Mexico, 73-71 W
Nov. 25 Temple (neutral), 62-69 L
Dec. 4 at Iowa State, 70-71 L
Dec. 8 San Diego State, 66-70 L
Dec. 12 Southern Miss, 67-65 W
Dec. 22 Kansas, 68-78 L
* Like us, Ken sees a lot of tightly contested games for Cal. However, they are predicted to be the losing side in most of them. Cal is supposed to take a step back this year, but if they can beat the Temples and SD States of the world it will go a long way towards improving the national image of the Pac-10.
Nov. 18 Virginia, W 66-65
Nov. 25 Murray State (neutral), 64-65 L
Dec. 18 at Butler, 61-69 L
Dec. 21 at Oklahoma State, 66-73 L
* Stanford plays few important non-con games and seems poised to lose them all, though hopefully they pound Virginia into the ground. They are also supposed to lose to something called a "Murray State," which after some research I discovered is predicted to win the Ohio Valley Conference. The More You Know.
Nov. 20 Bradley (neutral), 65-62 W
Nov. 27 at Nebraska, 59-62 L
Nov. 29 at TCU, 66-62 W
Dec. 5 Texas, 64-67 L
Dec. 18 at Kansas, 59-72 L
Dec. 21 at Tennessee, 60-68 L
* USC plays the most ambitious schedule of all the Pac-10 teams and could get punished for it. They play 3 teams with legitimate Top 25 aspirations and a couple tough road games against potential NIT teams. If the Trojans can steal two or even three of those projected losses they will prove themselves a contender and will greatly benefit our conference.
Nov. 16 Pacific, 69-60 W
Dec. 2 at Kansas, 65-77 L
Dec. 18 Brigham Young (semi-home), 74-75 L
Feb. 5 St. John's, 70-65 W
* UCLA has a surprisingly weak schedule this year. Pacific is on the verge of being a gimme game despite being the favorite to win the Big West conference. @KU is almost certainly a loss, which leaves a couple games with BYU and St. John’s as the only real swing games. It would be nice if they won them both.
Nov. 27 Kansas (neutral), 69-75 L
Dec. 1 at Rice , 73-65 W
Dec. 5 Oklahoma, 78-65 W
Dec. 11 at Brigham Young (semi-away), 73-77 L
Dec. 19 at North Carolina State, 68-70 L
* Arizona is likely our 2nd best shot to make a non-con statement after USC. They are the first of four (!) Pac-10 teams to take on Kansas this year and have a decent chance to win. They finish up their schedule with two more-or-less road games against respectable teams so they could head into conference play with a head of steam.
Nov. 16 at New Mexico, 67-66 W
Nov. 20 UAB, 68-57 W
Dec. 2 at Baylor, 63-70 L
Dec. 5 Richmond, 64-61 W
Dec. 17 at Nevada, 72-61 W
* Tonight’s test against UNM might be the toughest game on the schedule outside of an almost-certain-loss to Baylor. It is especially important because an away win in Albuquerque might be their only impressive road win in the non-con schedule. Let’s go Devils!
Nov. 27 Duke, 65-81 L
Dec. 2 Missouri, 70-78 L
Dec. 17 at Virginia, 63-72 L
* Oregon has already won a couple close games over mediocre teams. Hey, at least they didn’t lose! They shouldn’t be challenged until they host Duke in the Rose Garden. They only have a few tough games this year and probably will lose them all. I’ll be okay with that as long as they don’t lose the "easy" ones too.
Dec. 4 at Colorado, 62-69 L
Dec. 15 at Montana, 60-59 W
Dec. 18 George Washington, 63-59 W
* OSU doesn’t play a team that will even sniff the NCAA tournament this year, at least as an at-large. Their only games against Ken’s Top 120 teams are at Colorado and hosting GW. However, they do make a trip to DC (at Howard, Nov. 27th) to visit the family for Thanksgiving. How nice! If OSU can manage a win in Boulder they could enter the Pac-10 schedule undefeated and largely untested.
So outside of a few more-or-less guaranteed losses to Kansas, most of these important non-con games can and should be won. Last year we lost almost ALL of them, earning the title of worst BCS league. Hopefully we can be impressive this year and send a few more teams to the NCAA tournament. It all starts tonight with ASU @ UNM. Go Pac-10, and GO COUGS!