Top 50 Most Important A10 MBB Non-conference Games
The 2022-23 College Basketball Season tips-off in a matter of days! We compiled the top 50 most important Atlantic 10 non-conference games using Bart Torvik’s wins above bubble metric. The list includes at least two non-conference games per team and no more than four per team. Also note this only includes scheduled games, and not any MTE tournament games that may happen.
8. @ Memphis
16. @ Temple
22. *vs Arizona State
40. vs Vanderbilt
The VCU Rams men’s basketball team has again set up a non-conference schedule with an eye towards building a competitive NCAA Tournament resume. At the top of the list is VCU’s Nov. 20 road trip to Memphis, the first time the Rams have traveled to face the Tigers as a true road team since 1992. The Rams have won their last two matchups with Memphis, with a win in South Dakota in 2020 during the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic and a 78-65 win against #19 Memphis in the Bahamas in 2012 during the Battle 4 Atlantis. Memphis should be a tough opponent, as the program carries significant buzz after being picked second in the preseason American Athletic Conference. As always, stacking true road wins against high-quality opponents is like gold for the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
The old Atlantic 10 and the new Atlantic 10 will converge in Philadelphia on Dec. 3, as VCU will travel to the northeast to take on Temple. The Owls spent 31 seasons in the A-10 and won the conference tournament nine times. VCU and Temple overlapped as members in the conference for one season before the Owls left to join the American Athletic Conference, where they remain today. Temple ranks fifth in the AAC preseason poll (three spots behind Memphis), with a key season upcoming for fourth- year head coach Aaron McKie. The Rams defeated the Owls in their last meeting in the 2018 Legends Classic, 57-51. As with Memphis, VCU will look to continue its win streak against Temple to build a tournament resume.
VCU’s first game against a Power 5 conference opponent comes at a neutral site, when the Rams will face Arizona State on Nov. 16. The game is the first game in VCU’s return to the Legends Classic, held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The arena will also once again host the A-10 Tournament this spring. In the Pac-12 media poll, Arizona State came up seventh, five spots behind in-state rivals Arizona. While the conference appears down on Arizona State, the neutral site game should prove to be a great early season test against Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils, who are frequent NCAA Tournament contenders that most recently made the tournament in 2019.
Last year, VCU played its lowest scoring game of the year on the road against Vanderbilt, securing a 48-37 win without star point guard Ace Baldwin. The Rams defense also held star Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr. to eight points on 20% shooting. On Nov. 30, the Commodores will travel to Richmond for VCU’s biggest home game of the non-conference schedule. Vanderbilt does enter the contest as a different team, without Pippen and picked to finish 13th in the Southeastern Conference. However, Vanderbilt is coming off of its first winning season since 2016-17, and has returned Jordan Wright, who led all scorers in last year’s matchup. On paper, VCU should be heavy favorites in this one and must take care of business to avoid the early season speed bump on the tournament resume.
3. @ Arkansas
9. @ Tulane
Heading into 2022-23, Fordham has once again made defending home court not only a priority, but essentially a necessity. Out of the 13 non-conference games the Rams play this season, 11 of them will tip off at the Rose Hill gym. Among those 11 include the Tom Konchalski Classic, and MTE hosted by Fordham that will see the Rams play the University of Illinois-Chicago, Stonehill College, and longtime football rival Holy Cross in the days leading up to Thanksgiving break.
Those two away games, both featured in this year’s A10Talk Top 50 Non-Conference games, will be major tests for Fordham in ability, cohesion, and resilience as a team. Against the Arkansas Razorbacks on November 11th and the Tulane Green Wave on December 3rd, the Rams will travel over 1,000 miles twice to play two surging southern programs. Against the Razorbacks, currently ranked 10th in the preseason AP Poll, the Rams have one mission; limit the freshmen.
While Arkansas is sporting one of their best recruiting classes ever, going up against Fordham in just their second game of the season means that the Rams are getting this SEC powerhouse before they’ve really gelled as a team. While Fordham has plenty of newcomers of their own in Khalid Moore, Will Richardson, and Angel Montas, they’ve still got a solid core of Antrell Charlton, Darius Quisenberry, and Abdou Tsimbila who started plenty of games together last year. As long as they can defend Arkansas’ highly anticipated guards, and maintain their patented defensive pressure, I think they have all the makings of an early season spoiler team.
As for the Tulane Blue Wave, they’ll look to be a surprise team in the American in football AND men’s basketball this year, as many in the AAC community believe that this team is way more than their 5th overall ranking in the conference preseason poll shows. It’s tough to put everything on one player in the preseason, especially in college, but for Tulane, their early season success depends largely on the performance of Jalen Cook. The Sophomore guard found his way on the all-conference first team this year after averaging 18 ppg in 2021-22, so the Rams will no doubt have to shut him down to grab a win in the Big Easy this season.
5. @ Auburn
19. vs Memphis
21. *vs Maryland
31. vs Drake
SLU has the toughest non-conference schedule in the A10. It’s one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the entire country. There are the name-brand games against teams like Auburn and Memphis, but almost every other game is against tough teams projected to be at the top of their respective conferences.
The Billikens biggest game is the road matchup against Auburn. After nearly upsetting the Tigers at Chaifetz last season, the Billikens will look to get revenge this season on the plains. They also host Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers at home, and look to wreak vengeance after a disappointing blowout loss last season.
Throw in matchups with Maryland and then either Providence or Miami at the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, and a showdown with the Drake Bulldogs, tipped to win the Missouri Valley, and the non-conference schedule should be a real trial by fire for the Billikens. With NCAA at-large hopes, Travis Ford and the SLU Billikens wouldn’t want it any other way.
4. @ Villanova
14. @ Cincinnati
27. *vs Temple
37. *vs Wake Forest
La Salle has 4 games that make this top 50 list, the first of which coming in at number 4 against a juggernaut in Villanova. This will be the first game for Fran Dunphy and the new-look Explorers and our first chance to see what kind of work Fran Dunphy’s guys have been putting in over the summer and early fall. Newcomers such as Rokas Jocius, Hassan and Fousseyni
Drame, and Jorge Sanchez-Ramos, will be putting the La Salle jersey on for the first time, hopefully showing that they, along with Dunphy, have progressed the La Salle basketball program to compete much better in the A10 then they did last year.
Will they get blown out 25 points? Hopefully not, but it always a possibility with this stout Villanova team. In my opinion,
this game isn’t about winning or losing; it is about rising to your competition. Everyone under the sun knows that Villanova is the better team, therefore La Salle must show that they can at least compete with a top 20 team in the nation, unlike what they did last year under Ash Howard, scoring a measly 17 points in the first half. Dunphy and his guys will have their work cut out for them, but it will be crucial game for the Explorers to prove that this is indeed a new and improved team compared to previous years under Ash Howard.
La Salle has three more games that make this list, against Wake Forest in Jamacia, and games against Cincinnati and Temple. The Wake Forest game is an interesting one, as it will be played in Montego Bay. In my experience in college athletics in general, traveling for a few days for competition is a great way for a team to come together and really build chemistry. I believe
this is a wonderful opportunity for the Explorers to develop that chemistry that will be crucial in the later stages of the season. Cincinnati will again be another test against top notch competition, like the Villanova game. A big prove it game for Dunphy and company. They need to show their ability to stay in these big-time games and compete with some of the best in the nation.
Last but certainly not least, the game against Temple. Obviously, Temple and Fran Dunphy go way back, and I imagine this could be a bit of an emotional game for Dunphy. This Big 5 matchup last year did not yield well for La Salle, as they were held to just 22 first half points while conceding 39. That needs to change under the Dunphy regime, and it will be interesting to see how the Explorers compete against Dunphy’s old team. Of all the games on this list, I believe the Temple one is the most winnable. Big 5 matchup, at the Gola, Dunphy facing his own team, this is a classic matchup just waiting to happen, and I believe we see a close, hard fought game here, with the Explorers hopefully edging out the Owls.
23. *vs North Texas
34. *vs Colorado
38. @ South Florida
44. vs Towson
UMass’ non-conference slate is much lighter on the power conference front than in recent years. In year one of the Frank Martin era, the Minutemen’s marquee games will be in their MTE in Myrtle Beach against Colorado, and Murray St/Texas A&M. With a completely new roster and playing style, UMass won’t be tested as much preparing for the A10 slate as other top half conference contenders.
The Minutemen will host reigning CAA champs Towson the first week of the season in the second game. Expect this game to be a coaching clinic between two of the best coaches in mid-major basketball in Frank Martin and Pat Skerry. This will be a great early test to see how UMass competes against experienced and skilled teams with similar profiles.
The inventory of quality home games will be scarce during the non-conference, but UMass will have a few resume boosting opportunities throughout the state of Massachusetts. The Minutemen complete part two of neutral series vs North Texas in Springfield MA, home of the basketball HOF, which should be a highly anticipated matchup with Marcus Camby said to be in attendance. UMass will also return to Harvard this season in a game where the crowd makeup could make this feel like a game in the cage.
13. *vs Stanford
24. *vs Clemson
46. vs DePaul
Loyola has three noteworthy non-conference games this season. They have two neutral site games against Power 5 teams and one home game. Although their non con schedule in general might not look all too impressive, they have some impressive headline games. Those games will allow them an opportunity to win impactful games. The highest graded of the three is against Stanford at a neutral site in Santa Clara. Stanford was picked to finish fifth in the Pac12 and their head coach, Jerod Hasse, is looking for his first trip to the tournament with the Cardinal. Stanford returns 4 starters from last season, and also has a face that A10 fans might know in Davidson transfer, Michael Jones. Stanford should give the Ramblers their biggest test until they face Dayton or SLU in conference play later in the year.
The second neutral site game against a Power 5 conference team comes against Clemson on December 10 as a part of the Holiday Hoopsgiving event in Atlanta. This event features other big name universities such as LSU, Auburn, and Norte Dame. Clemson is projected by many to finish toward the bottom of a very good ACC this season. In contrast to the veteran Stanford team Loyola will play, this Clemson team will be extremely inexperienced. In addition to their untested roster, they also are dealing with uncertainty in the health of their best player, C PJ Hall. Loyola may hope to take advantage of this young roster before they can get to full strength, and hope that Clemson steals a few games against the Dukes and UNCs of the ACC.
Last, and certainly not least is Loyola’s home game against DePaul. For many Loyola fans, this game will mean the most to them and it’s not even relatively close. This inner city rivalry was renewed last season when Loyola went to DePaul’s place and handed them a 68-64 loss. This year the game will be played at a sold out Gentile Arena rather than a barely half full Wintrust Arena. Even though DePaul is projected to finish at the bottom of the Big East, you can throw the records out the window for this one and watch some great, hard nosed, Chicago basketball.
2. *vs Houston
12. vs Villanova
17. @ Temple
For the third year in a row, Saint Joe’s has landed a few major non-conference games for their schedule. In 2020-21, the Hawks scheduled games against top teams like Kansas and Tennessee. Last year, they followed that up with games against ranked opponents such as Villanova and USC. Now, for the third year in a row, Saint Joe’s finds itself toward the top of our top 50 non-conference games with matchups against Houston (3) and Villanova (16).
I often wonder if the reason Saint Joe’s has been able to land these impressive games, especially the ones outside the Big 5, was because they are an easy opponent. They help teams dust off the rust and get into shape as they start their season. However, the flaw in this thinking is that there are hundreds of teams that could be used for these games, many of whom are in the A10. And yet, Saint Joe’s is one of the more consistent mid-majors in college basketball landing these marquee games. Regardless of how they get them, SJU has had success in scheduling games against top schools. All while guaranteeing the Hawks some exposure on national TV.
This year, Saint Joe’s will kick off the season against Houston, who is ranked 3rd in the AP preseason poll. Last year, Houston reached the elite eight as a five seed, only to lose to Villanova. Speaking of Villanova, that is the other notable game for Saint Joe’s. Especially since Villanova will be led by their new coach, Kyle Neptune, who will look to continue Villanova’s dominance in this historic Big 5 rivalry.
In summary, Saint Joe’s has once again put a good schedule together. They have a game against a top 5 program in Houston. Not to mention, the Big 5 continues to provide top non-conference opportunities for the Hawks. This year, with games against Penn and Villanova making the list. Two Big 5 matchups that would be worthy of your time, even if they weren’t on our top 50.