If you're like me, one of the reasons you prefer college basketball to college football is nonconference play. In college football, you get one, maybe two, big nonconference matchups. They always take place at some soulless half-full NFL stadium, and crowds couldn't be less interested.
Thankfully, college basketball doesn't have that issue, for the most part, and the Georgetown Hoyas are a prime example.
Sure, Georgetown plays in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, a neutral site, but let's not act like Georgetown fans don't have experience going to the Garden. Their team is a charter Big East member and have been in the Big East Tournament since it's move to the Garden in 1983.
Aside from going to the Garden, Georgetown will travel to College Park to face Maryland (a preseason top 5 team), host Syracuse, and travel to Hartford to face UConn. Those are two huge "on-campus" games alone, with Hartford being only a short drive from Storrs. A far cry from college football where Alabama and Wisconsin fans had to head all the way to Dallas to open the season.
Regardless of all that, let's take a look at the Hoyas' nonconference schedule on a game-by-game basis.
Radford (November 14)
The Hoyas open their season at the Verizon Center against a Radford team that wasn't too bad last year. 22-12, 12-6 in the Big South. Georgetown handled Radford with ease last season, with Aaron Bowen and Paul White leading the way.
This game, likely, will go about the same for the Hoyas. They should look to use this game as a tune up for their big matchup in College Park.
Maryland (November 17)
The crown jewel of the Gavitt Games, the Big East's nonconference slate, and one of college basketball's best nonconference games, in general. The biggest rivalry in DMV Hoops is renewed this year, and what a time for it. Maryland will be in the top 5, Georgetown will be in the top 25. Last time these two met, in 2008, Georgetown rolled right on through, but Maryland leads the all time series.
This is the first meeting in College Park, though, since the 70s.
Melo Trimble. Diamond Stone. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera. Scott Van Pelt hosting SportsCenter live. There's no shortage of star power in this one.
Wisconsin (November 20)
It's not often that a team plays Wisconsin in the nonconference and it's considered an easier than than the one before, but that's what we have here. As stated above, this will take place at Madison Square Garden as part of the 2K Classic.
The Badgers, while still good, have lost a big part of the core that made up their back-to-back Final Four teams. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are now in the NBA, and Nigel Hayes is left to step into a leading role. Whether Hayes will be able to fill that void or not will remain to be seen, but he, and the new look Badgers, are certainly being thrown to the wolves right away in this matchup.
Duke OR VCU (November 22)
Georgetown could potentially face both teams in last year's National Championship in the course of one weekend. Wow.
If the Hoyas face the Blue Devils, there are two things to focus on. First, they have four top 25 recruits. Business as usual for Duke, at this point.
Second, the Hoyas will need to worry about Grayson Allen. Allen, the unsung hero of the National Championship Game for the Blue Devils, is back for his sophomore year with a ton of newfound confidence after he shined on the big stage.
Having to face Duke and Wisconsin or Georgetown in the first month of the season is certainly a tough test for new VCU coach Will Wade.
In addition to Shaka Smart, VCU also lost last year's leading scorer and rebounder, Treveon Graham, to the NBA. It will be interesting to see how the new look Rams handle facing any two of these three established teams.
Bryant (November 28)
The toughest part of the nonconference schedule is over, by this point, for Georgetown. Bryant comes to the Verizon Center looking for an upset. The Bulldogs return most of their squad from last year, including Dyami Starks (18.6 PPG last year).
Bryant's problem last year, though, was they couldn't play defense. They found themselves in the bottom third of Division I in nearly every defensive category. The Hoyas should be able to take care of business here.
Maryland Eastern-Shore (November 30)
Maryland Eastern-Shore wasn't a bad team last season. They went 18-15, but 11 of those 18 wins came in conference play. They took nonconference losses to: Villanova, VCU, and Virginia Tech, among others.
Their two leading scorers, Mike Myers (15.8 PPG) and Devin Martin (14.0 PPG) return, but this should be a cakewalk for the Hoyas.
Syracuse (December 5)
OLD FRIEND ALERT!!!!
I'm not going to go in-depth with the history, here. If you want a history lesson, watch this awesome video about the rivalry that the Washington Post put out a couple years back. Manley Field House is officially closed.
As for this year, Syracuse is postseason eligible again. They don't play a great nonconference slate, so this is a big game for the Orange, compared to the Hoyas, for whom this is the third or fourth biggest nonconference game. Rakeem Christmas has departed for the NBA, but the Orange still have Trevor Cooney and an impressive recruiting class. This will be a fun one.
Brown (December 7)
What can Brown do for you? They can give you a nonconference win! That was awful, I'm sorry.
Anyways, Brown went 13-18 last year (though they did defeat Georgetown's Big East foe, Providence) and 4-10 in the Ivy League. To make things worse, Leland King, their leading scorer, transferred to Nevada.
Georgetown should be able to take care of business fairly easily here.
UNC Wilmington (December 12)
The Seahawks weren't awful last season. They went 18-14, but gave Louisville a bit of a scare at the KFC Yum! Center in December.
Like most teams, if you take UNC Wilmington lightly, you could find yourself in a similar situation as Louisville. Ultimately, talent wins out, and the better team wins 99% of the time, but you have to avoid sleepwalking through this game. UNC Wilmington was just outside of the top 100 in points per game last season (69.9, 102nd) and in the top 40 in steals per game (7.7, 39th). It's uncharacteristic of the Hoyas to play sloppily, but if they don't protect the ball, they may find themselves in a pickle in this one.
That being said, I still think Georgetown should be able to take care of business, but UNC Wilmington should cause a bit more of a scare than, say, Brown.
Monmouth (December 15)
Monmouth was a strange team last season. They went 18-15 and 13-7 in conference. The weird part, though? They nearly beat Maryland in College Park, then turned around and lost to Rutgers at home. Granted, Maryland was without Dez Wells at the time, and nowhere near the team they will be this year, but one would think that after coming that close against the Terps, Rutgers would have been a blowout.
Monmouth returns a good portion of their team from last year, and play UCLA and USC on the road this season before they go to Washington DC. I think Georgetown's talent will win out fairly easily, but Monmouth will be battle-tested if nothing else.
UNC Asheville (December 19)
It isn't really worth discussing what UNC Asheville did last season. They went 15-16, 10-8 in the Big South, and were good offensively (55th in the country in PPG, 72.3). The reason it doesn't matter? Leading scorer Andrew Rowsey, and his 19.2 points per game, transferred from Asheville to Milwaukee where he'll be playing for the Marquette Golden Eagles.
19.2 points per game is a massive amount to have to make up. Georgetown will win this one easily.
Charlotte (December 22)
I feel bad for the 49ers. They were 37th in the nation with 73.8 points per game last season. A big reason for that? They had three guys -- Torin Dorn, Pierria Henry, and Mike Thorne, all average at least 10 points per game.
Why do I feel bad? Dorn (12.0 PPG) transferred to NC State, while Thorne (10.1 PPG) transferred to Illinois. Charlotte also was only 14-18 last season. How is that possible with such a good offense? They couldn't play defense. 311th in the country with 72.4 points allowed per game.
This is a great tune-up for Georgetown as they enter Big East play. They should pull off the road win, though.
Welp, that'll do it for this piece, no more conference games for Georget... WAIT A MINUTE!
UConn (January 20)
OLD FRIEND ALERT!!!!
While I really wish this game was in Storrs, the XL Center will have to do. The Hoyas and Huskies are no strangers to each other. Both schools have a record seven Big East Tournament titles, and both have been two of the most successful programs in the country in the past quarter century.
UConn comes into this game with Rodney Purvis leading the charge and a solid recruiting class to boot. This one will be a blast, just like Maryland and Syracuse.
Alright. Let's see here. I think Georgetown wins, without question, really, all the non "power conference" games. So that's eight wins.
This is where it gets fun. I can see the Hoyas winning one of the two against Maryland or Wisconsin, and then beating VCU. I don't like them against Duke, at all.
I'll give the Hoyas the edge against Syracuse because it's in Washington DC, and I'll give UConn the edge in Hartford. That puts Georgetown at 11-2 in the nonconference portion of their schedule, depending on how the 2K Classic goes down.
At the end of the day, I love this schedule. A mix of old friends, decent local teams, and power teams. Everyone always says that for the Big East to be good, the Hoyas have to be good. This schedule gives them a chance to be good, and continue to maintain their national brand.