Virginia Tech men’s basketball officially released its non-conference schedule for the 2017-18 season Monday.
The overall schedule features seven teams that finished last season in the top 25 of the RPI. The non-conference slate leaves a lot to be desired however.
The top non-conference opponent will unquestionably be the Kentucky Wildcats. Last year, John Calipari’s squad finished second in the RPI with a 32-6 overall record. The Hokies will travel to Lexington for the first time since 1962 when Tech earned its only win in the series.
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The Hokies will also travel to SEC member Ole Miss. The Rebels finished with a 22-11 overall record a year ago and ended the season 69th in the RPI.
Iowa is Virginia Tech’s opponent in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this season. The Hawkeyes took a step back last season with a 19-15 overall record and a finish of 83rd in the RPI.
The Hokies will also participate in the 2K Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. Several home games will be included in that event before Tech takes on Saint Louis in Madison Square Garden. The Hokies will then face either Washington or Providence.
Tech will also play Detroit Mercy, The Citadel, Houston Baptist, Morehead State, Radford, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Presbyterian, and North Carolina A&T.
Here’s a breakdown of the RPI rankings of the non-conference schedule from a year ago. For reference, there are 351 teams in Division I.
Houston Baptist 185
Morehead State 201
Saint Louis 227
Detroit Mercy 289
North Carolina A&T 350
Clearly, that’s a pretty weak schedule. The ACC will be very difficult once again which will bump Tech’s overall strength of schedule numbers up considerably, but that’s still an underwhelming lineup.
Providence finished last year 62nd while Washington was 210th. No matter which team the Hokies draw there, it only helps so much.
Still, the rosters are different for everyone and the Hokies will have a very difficult conference schedule. Tech faces Duke, Louisville, Miami, and Virginia twice each so this non-conference group may be an effort to counteract that.
There’s a long way to go, but if the Hokies are on the NCAA Tournament bubble come March, this schedule could come back to bite them.