Posted: 3:34 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013
By Brian Schwartz
The University of Virginia has announced its 2013-2014 basketball schedule. That's right, Wahoo fans, it's finally safe to begin planning your lives this winter.
The schedule includes 13 out-of-conference games, and, for the first time ever, 18 conference games. Virginia will play 17 games at home, 11 on the road, and 3 at neutral sites.
Virginia will be all over national TV this winter. Twelve games will be on ESPN or ESPN2, with three more on ESPNU. The finale at Maryland will be televised by CBS. Sorry, America, but it's time to #EmbraceThePace!
The season officially gets underway on Friday, November 8th, when James Madison comes to John Paul Jones Arena. VCU visits next at 7PM on November 12th, a matchup that will be televised by ESPN2 as part of the network's "24 Hour Hoops Marathon."
The out-of-conference section of the schedule is highlighted by a nationally-televised December 4 rematch with Wisconsin as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge; last season, the Hoos stunned the Badgers with a 60-54 victory in the Kohl Center. The rematches continue with a road date at Tennessee, whom UVA defeated at JPJ last year.
UVA fans should also circle the November 16 date with Davidson, which will take place at the Bobcat's arena in Charlotte, NC (technically a neutral site, but in reality "semi-away").
Virginia will compete in the Corpus Chrisi classic over Thanksgiving break; the team will face Southern Methodist University, then either Texas A&M; or Missouri State. The games against Hampton and Liberty earlier that week are also technically part of this tournament, though they'll take place at JPJ. (This happens because teams are allowed to count 4 games as part of a preseason tournament as one game; thus, teams are able to play 31 games despite an NCAA limit of 28).
The rest of the out-of-conference includes home games with Navy, Northern Iowa, and Norfolk State, and a road date at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Coach Bennett's alma mater. While Paul Jesperson has transferred to UNI, he will not be eligible to play against the Hoos this season.
Shifting gears to ACC play, with the additions of Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame, UVA's 18-game conference schedule will be broken down as follows:
The conference schedule starts off with a road game at Florida State on January 4th, while the home conference opener will come against Wake Forest the following Wednesday.
The season really gets going when the Hoos head to Cameron Indoor to take on Duke on Monday, January 13, then come home to face FSU, then UNC the following Monday. Both the Duke and UNC games will be televised nationally on ESPN as part of the network's "Big Monday" program, which will include the ACC for the first time ever.
Virginia returns to Big Monday a conference-high 3rd time for Maryland's final trip to JPJ on February 10th. The three Big Monday games also mean that UVA will play three conference games on just one day of rest, though the team will have a long week to recover. UVA's "bye" week comes just before the season finale at Maryland.
The ACC welcomes three new members to the conference. Syracuse makes its first visit to JPJ as a conference-mate, but it doesn't come until March; the teams last met during a home and home series in December of 2007 and 2008, with the Orange winning both games in nail-biters. UVA plays its first game in South Bend on January 28, with Notre Dame coming to JPJ a month later. Pitt will not play in Charlottesville, though UVA will make a trip to play the Panthers on the road on Super Bowl Sunday.
The 2014 ACC tournament will take place in the Greensboro Coliseum for the second year in a row and the fourth in the past five. It is also scheduled to return to Greensboro in 2015. The fifteen-team conference means that the action will now start on Wednesday, with matchups between teams with the lowest six records. Teams seeded between 5 and 9 will play on Thursday (with the 5, 6, and 7 seeds playing Wednesday's winners), while the top four seeds will receive a bye to Friday's quarterfinals.
Taking a step back, the schedule a whole is an improvement last season's, which factored into Virginia's exclusion from the NCAA tournament. The expansion to 18 ACC games immediately adds two quality opponents, and the additions of Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame make those opponents...well...even more quality. Home games against VCU and Wisconsin are big opportunities for signature wins, and the committee will appreciate UVA's challenging itself in less-friendly confines against Davidson and Tennessee.
While the Corpus Christi tournament is lackluster, none of UVA's opponents there are likely to by "RPI-killers" with RPIs worse than 250. Home games against in-state teams like JMU, Liberty, and Hampton will obviously lower UVA's strength of schedule; however, these games are necessary to fill out a 31 game schedule with 17 home games, not to mention give Tony Bennett's team some opportunity to breathe and tune-up for ACC play. Scheduling a home game with Northern Iowa is another example of good scheduling against a quality mid-major opponent.
There are a few scheduling issues in terms of breaks between games. The aforementioned Big Monday games mean that UVA plays a total of 4 games on one day or rest and one back-to-back (in Corpus Christi). The team's exam break is even longer than usual, with a full two weeks between games. If the Hoos want to jump into the nation's college basketball elite, they'll have to overcome a few awkward breaks and play with consistency.
Not counting UVA's uncertain tournament game, a total of 17 games come against opponents that finished in KenPom's top-100 last season, and 6 are against teams finishing in the top 20 (VCU, Wisconsin, Duke, Pitt, Syracuse, and Miami). 12 matchups are with teams that made the 2012 NCAA tourney.
Looking at the potential for "RPI-killers" (so using RPI rank instead of KenPom). UVA has just 3 games against teams that finished last season with RPIs worse than 250 (Navy, Liberty, and Hampton), compared to 6 last year.
Virginia's full schedule is below - lack of TV information does not mean the game will not be televised, but that no TV information has been announced at this time.