Duke, KU might stumble early
Blue Devils, Jayhawks among teams with tough nonconference slates
This week, I'm considering the one part of college basketball that is (more or less) totally within a program's control, its nonconference schedule. On Monday, I nominated five contenders I think have fast starts hardwired into their schedules. (Takeaway: Indiana will start Big Ten play with a really nice record.)
Today, I'm going to look through the other end of the telescope and introduce you to five teams that, for whatever reasons, have chosen to play several very tough opponents. Any one of these teams could be a candidate to "pull a Michigan State." Last season, the Spartans opened 2011-12 by losing consecutive games to North Carolina (on an aircraft carrier) and Duke (in Madison Square Garden). It's difficult to say "Look out for Team X!" when the team is 0-2, so no one said that about Tom Izzo's team. Yet by March, the Spartans were a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
It's too early to hand out top seeds, of course, but it's not too soon to note that the following teams have created schedules of Izzo-like difficulty.
To read about the top five contenders with the most difficult nonconference schedules, you must be an ESPN Insider.
MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES
- NCAA files intent to appeal O'Bannon decision
- After threats, event cancels Updyke showing
- Vandy goes with Robinette over Rivers at QB
- Kent State to honor Bitsko with helmet decal
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Insider CBB content
• Greenberg/Telep: Kansas Jayhawks
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Marquette
• Gasaway/Rankin: Indiana Hoosiers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Michigan Wolverines
• Gasaway/Rankin: Ohio State Buckeyes
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Memphis Tigers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Florida Gators
• Greenberg/Telep: Kentucky Wildcats
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Louisville Cardinals
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Syracuse Orange
• Greenberg/Biancardi: NC State Wolfpack
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Duke Blue Devils
• Biancardi/Gasaway: North Carolina Tar Heels
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Arizona Wildcats
• Greenberg/Telep: UCLA Bruins
• Gasaway: Breakout second-year coaches
• Lunardi: Could Louisville repeat as champs?
• Greenberg: UVA tops list of surprise teams
• Fraschilla: How returning stars can improve
• Gasaway: Top title challengers to Kentucky
• Lunardi: Who will earn No. 1 seeds in 2014?
• Telep: Latest on No. 13 junior Theo Pinson
• Rankin: What Wiggins means for Kansas
• Biancardi: KU to prep Wiggins for NBA success
• Telep: Updated look at top recruits
• Roundtable: Most impressive on AAU circuit?
• Ford: NBA draft lottery preview
• Ford: Winners from the NBA draft combine
• Fraschilla: Burke the draft's top point guard?
• Ford: Measurements concern some GMs
• Ford: Why Wiggins would go No. 1 in 2013
Jay Bilas Blog
Jay's take on latest from around the nation
Analysis from Fraschilla, Greenberg and Lunardi
Get news and rumblings before anyone
Hollinger's College PER
College basketball's top players
Get wagering advice for every game