Today Illini fans had a little more light shed on the future basketball schedule for next season. According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, Illinois will play in a five-team round-robin along with Bradley, Alabama State, Jacksonville State, and Chicago State. For those who don't know, a round-robin type of competition is one where each team involved plays each other team involved. While I personally feel like you pencil these games in as wins for Illinois, and I appreciate Groce scheduling some easier home games at the Farm, I have to wonder what this will do to our RPI. This past season, the main argument for why the Illini should make the Big Dance was because of their non-conference wins/RPI numbers inclduing big wins over Gonzaga, Butler, and others. But next season, we already know most of the non-conference schedule, and let me tell ya--it's not quite as stacked as last year's:
@ Georgia Tech
Missouri (St. Louis)
The only real opportunities to boost your RPI with that schedule is at UNLV, at Oregon, at Georgia Tech (maybe). Auburn is a pretty bad team, and while a win against Mizzou would be impressive, I can't think the Tigers wil be as good as they were last year, and it's on a neutral floor. I'm not criticizing the scheduling tactics of Groce and Thomas, but I am a bit worried that by the time the non-conference season ends and we're, say, 10-3, no one will believe if we're a legit team or not because those wins came against the Jacksonville State's of the world.
In other news, many more non-conference tournaments and schedules were released today. Below are some teams and games of note:
- Ohio State will play Notre Dame in the Gotham Classic at MSG in December
- Maui Invitational has Syracuse, Gonzaga, Baylor, Arkansas, Dayton, Cal, Minnesota & Chaminade
- 2K Sports Classic has Indiana, UConn, Washington and BC as its four hosts
- Colorado & Wyoming will also play in a five-team round-robin with Arkansas St, Tennessee Martin & Jackson State
- Florida will also play in a five-team round-robin with Middle Tennessee, Arkansas Little-Rock, Southern, & North Florida
- N.C. State & Cincinnati will also play in a 5-team round-robin with Campbell, Appalachian State & NC Central
- Memphis will play Florida in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 17 at Madison Square Garden
Looks like some potential good matchups early next season with teams like Indiana, UConn, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Minnesota, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, and Florida facing off. How do you feel about Groce's scheduling tactics for next season? Too many cupcakes? Or is it a good thing to practically guarantee some wins early on in the year?
UPDATE: You can make that non-conference schedule a bit tougher now. Andy Katz is reporting that Illinois will play at Oregon in the Rose Garden in Portland next season, with a return trip to the United Center the following year.
UPDATE 2: Illinois will travel on the road for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge next year and play Georgia Tech in a rematch of this past year's game at the State Farm Center.