Since making the move from the Big East to the American Athletic Conference, non-conference scheduling has become of even greater importance to the UConn basketball program. With their new home not being loaded with the quality conference games that the Big East boasted, putting together a quality non-conference slate is critical for Kevin Ollie’s program if its to remain among the nation’s elite.
Tuesday the school revealed its non-conference schedule for the 2015-16 season, and it includes games against Georgetown, Maryland, Ohio State and Texas. Also in the plans for the Huskies is an appearance in the Battle 4 Atlantis, which includes Syracuse, Michigan, Gonzaga, Texas, Texas A&M, Charlotte and Washington. With that field being what it is, UConn could end up playing Texas twice in 2015-16.
UConn will host both Ohio State (December 12) and Georgetown (January 23), and their game against a loaded Maryland (December 8) being played at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic. UConn visits Texas December 29 in what will be the lone true road game on their schedule before the start of conference play.
Also on the non-conference schedule are home games against Maine, New Hampshire, Furman, Sacred Heart, UMass-Lowell and Central Connecticut State.
“We know the non-conference schedule we will face next season will be extremely challenging, but part of the reason our student-athletes come to UConn is to play top-level competition,” Ollie said in the release. “We think our non-conference schedule, combined with 18 tough league games, will best prepare us for postseason play.”
The headlining non-conference games are important for two reasons for UConn, one of which being the fact that the bottom of the American isn’t as strong as the Big East’s basement was during its 16-team era (yes, even with a struggling DePaul in tow). The other reason: there are some teams on the non-conference slate that struggled a season ago and could be in line to do so again in 2015-16.
Even with the loss of Ryan Boatright the Huskies will be a factor both within the American and nationally. Graduate students Sterling Gibbs and Shonn Miller joining incoming freshmen Jalen Adams and Steven Enoch as newcomers to a roster that returns the majority of its major contributors from 2014-15, led by Daniel Hamilton, Amida Brimah and Rodney Purvis.