Nonconference schedule analysis: Others

October, 7, 2011
10/07/11
9:45
AM ET
All week, ESPN.com has been breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen leagues. On Tuesday, we began with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. On Wednesday, we continued with the Big East, Atlantic 10 and Colonial.

We devoted Thursday to the West, with the Pac-12, WCC and Mountain West. Friday is all about the Midwest. We began with a look at the Missouri Valley and the Big 12, and finished up with the Big Ten.

Now, in conclusion, let's take a look at six prominent mid-majors from outside the 12 conferences ...

BUTLER

Toughest: Louisville (Nov. 19), at Indiana (Nov. 27), Xavier (Dec. 7), vs. Purdue at Conseco Fieldhouse (Dec. 17), at Gonzaga (Dec. 20)
Next-toughest: at Ball State (Dec. 10), at Stanford (Dec. 22), TBA BracketBuster (home)
The rest: at Evansville (Nov. 12), Chattanooga (Nov. 15), Savannah State (Nov. 21), Gardner-Webb (Nov. 23), Oakland City (Nov. 29)
Toughness scale (1-10): 9 -- A couple of intriguing in-state matchups against Indiana and Purdue will test the Bulldogs, and then there is the road battle with the mid-major darling of old, Gonzaga. Throw in a game at Hinkle against Louisville and a West Coast trip to Stanford, and it’s quite the schedule to prepare Brad Stevens’ team for Horizon League play.

UTAH STATE

Toughest: BYU (Nov. 11), at Wichita State (Dec. 10), at Mississippi State (Dec. 31)
Next-toughest: at Weber State (Nov. 15), Kent State (Dec. 22)
The rest: Southern Utah (Nov. 19), at Texas A&M-CC (Nov. 22), at Idaho State (Nov. 26), Denver (Nov. 30), at Pacific (Dec. 3), Utah Valley (Dec. 6), Seattle (Dec. 17), Texas-Arlington (Dec. 20), St. Peter’s (Dec. 21), at Seattle (Jan. 19), Montana Tech (Feb. 14), BracketBusters opponent (Feb. 18)
Toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- Stew Morrill did well to schedule a series with Mississippi State, but a trip to Starkville isn’t the only highlight of the Aggies’ schedule. In a rebuilding year for the defending WAC champs, they face Wichita State on the road and have rival BYU coming to the Spectrum for the season opener. The Spectrum is usually wild anyway. When BYU comes to town? Hide the women and children.

HARVARD

Toughest: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 24-26), at Connecticut (Dec. 8 )
Next-toughest: at Vermont (Dec. 1), at Boston College (Dec. 29), George Washington (Jan. 14)
The rest: MIT (Nov. 11), at Holy Cross (Nov. 15), at Loyola Marymount (Nov. 19), Seattle (Dec. 4), at Boston U. (Dec. 10), Florida Atlantic (Dec. 22), Saint Joseph’s (Dec. 31), at Fordham (Jan. 3), at Monmouth (Jan. 10)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- If Jeremy Lin impressed Jim Calhoun, think what this Tommy Amaker team could do. Harvard gets a chance to stun the defending national champion on the road and could face the Huskies earlier in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. That tournament at the least gets the Crimson a chance to play Utah of the Pac-12 and then either Florida State or UMass.

BELMONT

Toughest: at Duke (Nov. 11), at Memphis (Nov. 15)
Next-toughest: at Marshall (Dec. 19), at Austin Peay (Dec. 21), Marshall (Dec. 29), Austin Peay (Feb. 6)
The rest: Maui Invitational regional (Nov. 19-20), Trevecca Nazarene (Nov. 28), Tennessee State (Dec. 6), at Middle Tennessee (Dec. 13), Troy (Dec. 15), at Miami (Ohio) (Dec. 17)
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- This is an exciting schedule. In a season in which Belmont is expected to be dominant again in the Atlantic Sun, it’ll have a chance to play road games against Duke and Memphis by virtue of an invitation to the opening rounds of the Maui Invitational. The Bruins get regional-round games against Towson and either UNC Greensboro or Middle Tennessee. They also play home-and-home against sneaky-good Marshall and Austin Peay.

FAIRFIELD

Toughest: at Minnesota (Nov. 17), at Connecticut (Dec. 22)
Next-toughest: Providence (Nov. 14), Old Spice Classic (Nov. 24-27), vs. Old Dominion in Springfield, Mass. (Dec. 9), at Drexel (Dec. 28)
The rest: vs. Quinnipiac in Uncasville, Conn. (Nov. 11), Holy Cross (Nov. 20), New Hampshire (Dec. 11), at TBA BracketBusters
Toughness scale (1-10): 8 -- Facing defending national champion UConn, an improved Minnesota team and rising Drexel on the road is a tough task. At the Old Spice Classic, there will be more power-conference competition with Arizona State in the opening round and then either Dayton or Wake Forest. A home game against Providence also should be a good test for where the Stags stand in a season with high expectations.

IONA

Toughest: Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Nov. 17-20), at Marshall (Dec. 11), at Richmond (Dec. 14)
Next-toughest: Long Island (Nov. 28), at Vermont (Dec. 17)
The rest: Saint Joseph’s (Nov. 23), at Denver (Dec. 7), at William & Mary (Dec. 21), at Hofstra (Dec. 29), TBA BracketBusters (home)
Nonconference toughness scale (1-10): 7 -- Yes, the Gaels face Purdue and then either Temple or Western Michigan in Puerto Rico. But the real difficulty is in scheduling eight consecutive road games for their entire December slate. Going to Marshall, Richmond and Vermont in consecutive games certainly won’t be easy, and to end November, Iona hosts defending Northeast champion Long Island. Big things are expected of the Gaels this season. We'll see right away whether the hype is justified.

LONG BEACH STATE

Toughest: at Pittsburgh (Nov. 16), at Louisville (Nov. 28), at Kansas (Dec. 6), at North Carolina (Dec. 10)
Next-toughest: at San Diego State (Nov. 19), Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-25)
The rest: Idaho (Nov. 12), Boise State (Nov. 22), at Montana (Nov. 26), BYU-Hawaii (Dec. 2), Eastern New Mexico (Dec. 19), at TBA BracketBusters
Toughness scale (1-10): 10 -- Dan Monson’s team has traditionally played a tough schedule, but this one takes the cake with the 49ers facing a who’s-who of college basketball on the road. They also go to the Diamond Head Classic and draw Xavier in the opening round. Senior-laden Long Beach State has the talent for an upset victory, and at the very least, the schedule prepares it to defend the Big West regular-season title.

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