Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
M/cloudy
73°
M/cloudy
Hi 81° | Lo 52°

A look at nonconference opponents for UMass men’s basketball

Coming off of last year’s deep run in the NIT, the University of Massachusetts tried to create a men’s basketball slate that would give it the right mixture of schedule strength and victories to be in contention for an NCAA tournament at-large bid in March.

Because of the school’s football deal to play in the Mid-American Conference, the Minutemen were required to play four games (two home, two road) against MAC basketball teams.

Here’s a look at the 2012-13 nonconference slate, which begins Tuesday:

Harvard

2011-12 Record: 26-5 (12-2 Ivy League champions)

Notes: The ongoing investigation into a cheating scandal cost Harvard its top two returning players, taking the Crimson from Ivy favorite to a contender that’s rebuilding.

vs. UMass: Tuesday, 10 a.m., Mullins Center

Providence

2011-12 Record: 15-17 (4-14 Big East)

Notes: Picked 13th in the Big East, the Friars will play just seven scholarship players until freshman Kris Dunn is healthy. But led by point guard Vincent Council, those seven players should keep PC competitive.

vs. UMass: Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m., Puerto Rico Shootout

North Carolina State

2011-12 Record: 24-13 (9-7 ACC)

Notes: The Wolfpack, which advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, were picked to win the ACC, no small feat with Duke and North Carolina in conference, and is ranked No. 6 in both top 25s. They return their top four scorers from a year ago.

vs. UMass: Possible Puerto Rico opponent on Nov. 16

Penn State

2011-12 Record: 12-20 (4-14 Big Ten)

Notes: The Nittany Lions have one of the nation’s best point guards in Tim Frazier, but are coming off another tough season.

vs. UMass: Possible Puerto Rico opponent on Nov. 16

Oklahoma State

2011-12 Record: 15-18 (7-11 Big 12)

Notes: Things have to align just right for this to happen, but UMass could face former coach Travis Ford in Puerto Rico. Rumors have Ford on the hot seat after a tough campaign last year, but freshman point guard Marcus Smart has people optimistic that the Cowboys are headed for a bounce-back season.

vs. UMass: Possible Puerto Rico opponent on Nov. 18

North Carolina-Asheville

2011-12 Record: 24-10 (16-2 Big South tournament champions)

Notes: The Bulldogs lost some key pieces from last year’s team but have enough back to challenge in the Big South again.

vs. UMass: Possible Puerto Rico opponent on Nov. 18

Tennessee

2011-12 Record: 19-15 (10-6 SEC)

Notes: After a rough start, the Volunteers had a strong run late that almost earned them an NCAA tournament bid. They’ll be a legitimate contender for one this year.

vs. UMass: Possible Puerto Rico opponent on Nov. 18

Akron

2011-12 Record: 12-2 (13-3 MAC)

Notes: The Zips, who have been in the last six MAC tournament championship games, have four starters back and should be in the postseason mix again.

vs. UMass: Possible Puerto Rico opponent on Nov. 18

Siena

2011-12 Record: 14-17 (8-10 MAAC)

Notes: Senior O.D. Anosike (15.0 ppg, 12.5 rpg) leads the Saints as they try to bounce back after a tough year.

vs. UMass: Nov. 28, 7 p.m., Pepsi Center, Albany, N.Y.

Miami

2011-12 Record: 20-13 (9-7 ACC)

Notes: The Hurricanes return four starters and are expected to contend for an NCAA tournament berth. Having big man Reggie Johnson (10.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg) back for a full season should give coach Jim Larranaga’s team a big lift.

vs. UMass: Dec. 1, 2 p.m., Mullins Center

Northeastern

2011-12 Record: 14-17 (9-9 CAA)

Notes: UMass wants to play at least one game every year in Boston and with Boston College backing out of the annual game, the Minutemen will head to NU. The Huskies, who return their top three scorers, were picked fifth in the CAA preseason poll.

vs. UMass: Dec. 4, 7 p.m., Matthews Arena

Elon

2011-12 Record: 15-16 (9-9 Southern)

Notes: The Phoenix return four starters from the squad UMass beat in last year’s season opener at the Curry Hicks Cage. Center Lucas Troutman (12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) could be the Southern Conference’s top big man.

vs. UMass: Dec. 15, noon, MassMutual Center, Springfield.

Ohio

2011-12 Record: 29-8 (11-5 MAC)

Notes: The Bobcats nearly made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament last year before losing to North Carolina in overtime. All five starters return, led by point guard D.J. Cooper, who averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 assists. New coach Jim Christian replaces John Groce, who left for Illinois.

vs. UMass: Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m., Mullins Center

East Carolina

2011-12 Record: 15-16 (5-11 Conference USA)

Notes: ECU’s Miguel Paul (15.2 ppg, 5.2 apg) is among the more underrated point guards on a UMass schedule that’s loaded with good ones. With four starters back, the Pirates could be poised to take a step forward.

vs. UMass: Dec. 22, 2 p.m., Mullins Center

Northern Illinois

2011-12 Record: 5-26 (3-13 MAC)

Notes: The Huskies appear to be one of the worst teams on UMass’ schedule as the Minutemen got stuck with this game as part of the MAC football deal.

vs. UMass: Dec. 29, 4 p.m., DeKalb, Ill.

Miami (Ohio)

2011-12 Record: 9-21 (5-11 MAC)

Notes: Picked last in the MAC East, the RedHawks are in rebuilding mode under new coach John Cooper. They’re likely at least a year away from contending in the MAC.

vs. UMass: Jan. 2, 7 p.m., Oxford, Ohio

Eastern Michigan

2011-12 Record: 14-18 (9-7 MAC)

Notes: After being picked last in the MAC a year ago, the Eagles won the MAC West regular season crown. They could be better this year with an influx of transfer talent.

vs. UMass: Jan. 5, 2 p.m., Mullins Center

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.