- Jeff Goodman, ESPN Insider
It’s usually a given that Tom Izzo and Michigan State are at or near the top when it comes to the best nonconference schedules. Mark Few and Gonzaga are also just about always in the conversation.
However, neither has loaded up before league play in the same manner as has previously been the case. Don’t get me wrong; both have still assembled challenging non-league slates. But here are the nonconference schedules that get my vote for the most challenging -- and one clearly stands out above the rest.
Joe Lunardi took a look at bubble teams that may have cost themselves with their non-league slate. I agree completely with his view on Iowa, but Virginia has put together a solid schedule that should give Tony Bennett plenty to get into the NCAA tournament.
We also take a look at the worst non-league slates, one national title contender that should have done more with its schedule and a perennial Top 25 team that also came up shy.
Elite nonconference schedules
Give Bill Self credit. He loaded up this season. Kansas plays true road games at Florida and Colorado, and faces Duke in the Champions Classic. The Jayhawks will play in the Battle of Atlantis in the Bahamas and also take on New Mexico, Georgetown and San Diego State at home. Toss in games at Allen Fieldhouse against dangerous mid-majors Towson and Iona and this non-league schedule gets my vote for the best in the nation.
39dJeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello