Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Men's Basketball Schedule Released

The UT Arlington Athletic Department finally released the men's basketball schedule, the delay as school after school released theirs becoming more crushing by the day. Heck, even the Sun Belt Conference releasing the vast majority of conference play months ago added to the pressure. But worry no more.

I gotta say, I'm really impressed with this schedule, though not for the reason listed on UTAMavs.com. "Challenging schedule includes Ohio State, Texas and Memphis," reads the headline. Gotta say, don't really care about those teams. Will be highly proud if we pick off a win, but otherwise, they are just more name teams that come in a guarantee game to help raise funds for the team (I'm assuming Ohio State and Memphis, as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational, are games to be played for monetary value). I'm interested in two things, who is playing at College Park Center, and who are they playing in-state and near-state.

Those last two really have me buzzing.

We knew North Texas was coming to College Park Center, the Department issued a release that said as much. The issue was when. Speculation was a homecoming game, as it was a marquee rivalry game with built in pomp and circumstance. I was a proponent of not playing UNT for homecoming, as homecoming will draw well and UNT will draw well, if the game is played at the right time. And it is. The Mean Green make their first visit to our new palace on Thursday, December 3rd, right at a week before the last regular class and well over a week and a half before finals. Should draw well for the student body.

As far as homecoming is concerned, I really feel the game needs to be winnable. The first two homecoming games at CPC saw a great crowd, but a Maverick loss. How many students would have returned after a win, or would have talked to their friends and classmates about the fun game and spurred others to go later. I don't know as it is just speculation, but there's no doubt home wins spur greater attendance as a whole. There's also no doubt homecoming brings out the fans. The three homecoming games at CPC to date sit in the top seven most attended games at CPC. Take out the novelty of the first year and they are the three of the top four highest attended games.

This year, the opponent is Fordham, a University that plays in the Atlantic 10, one of the better mid-major conferences. However, the Rams are not one of the better A-10 teams, so this is certainly a winnable game. FU has played NCAA basketball for over a century and has made four NCAA tourney's, the last coming in 1992. They have 16 NIT appearances (including UTA's first in 1981), but have won five overall and not made an appearance since 1991.They have not won more than 10 games since the 2007/008 season (12 wins) and haven't had a winning record since 2006/07 (18-12). They are young with five freshman and five sophomores. In short, a winnable game with a big crowd. This could build for the next few games.

There are also three games away from CPC that have me excited. As part of that invitational, UTA travels to Ruston to take on Louisiana Tech, the on-and-off-again former conference mates. Tech has resurrected the program recently and it will be a good gauge of where UTA sits, as well as be a close game to the Mavs against a team the fan base knows.

Later they will play Rice in Houston and UTEP in El Paso. Two good, winnable games against in-state competition. This is also good for next year as presumably, these are home-and-home deals and will see the Owls and Miners at CPC next season. It also means that the Mavs will play four games against C-USA opponents. For the Sun Belt conference to elevate its standings in the pecking order, they have to win games against their peer conferences. If UTA can go 2-2 or even 3-1, they will really help the SBC's case.

UTA hosts Bradley to complete that home-and-home (UTA won at Peoria last year). They are a Missouri Valley school who has been struggling the last couple of years, though it hasn't been as bad as Fordham as they did make a sweet 16 run in 2006. This is another winnable game and it comes right before finals.

The last non-conference home game is against DIII school Sul Ross State and is scheduled at a good time, over the Christmas break. Neither Christmas break games nor Non-DI games bring out the crowds, so this is timed well. As the only non-conference game played at home over the break, I'm really happy it worked out that way. Kudos to Coach Scott Cross and Athletic Director Jim Baker for that move.

Even the conference portion shapes out well for the team. The Mavs play only two conference games over the break. I don't think much of the fan base is excited about Georgia Southern, despite their success last year. Georgia State coming off their win over Baylor in the NCAA tournament last year may be, but I'll take this outcome every year if offered. Last year, UTA played four games over the break and a fifth was right as school was starting, which sadly was a rivalry game with Texas State.

Speaking of, that game even works out very well this year. Games played at the end of the season, especially if the team is performing decently, are usually well-attended. Games against Texas State, especially not over school breaks, are also usually well attended. In this case, they are both as the Bobcats come to town on the 1st of March.

I think more than anything, this schedule just feels like we belong among the better teams of our peers. For years we have been conditioned to accept mediocre schedules and small league mindset due to Texas Hall, the Southland Conference and our own mindset. Seeing something like this triggers similar feelings to what I first felt walking into College Park Center for the first time. This schedule is just further proof that our program is growing and a lower rung role in the NCAA pecking order is no longer acceptable as long as we compete for a conference title.

For the first time in a while, I'm really excited about a schedule release. If the team is competitive, and by all accounts should be, and is relatively injury free, unlike the end of last year, UTA should draw really well this year. With the teams coming in and the timing of the games, UTA should set an all-time average attendance record this year, as well as have several games in the top ten. Mark your calendars Mav fans. Lots of good games to circle this year.

All conference games start at 7:15 PM. All non-conference games start at 7 PM, minus Fordham's 7:30 tip-off.

Saturday November 14, 2015

Tuesday November 17, 2015
@ Louisiana Tech

Friday November 20, 2015
@ Ohio State

Monday November 23, 2015
@ Memphis

Wednesday November 25, 2015

Sunday November 29, 2015
@ Rice

Tuesday December 1, 2015
@ Texas-Austin

Saturday December 5, 2015

Thursday December 3, 2015

Tuesday December 8, 2015

Monday December 21, 2015

Wednesday December 30, 2015

Saturday January 2, 2016

Thursday January 7, 2016
@ Appalachian State

Thursday January 14, 2016
@ Troy

Saturday January 16, 2016
@ South Alabama

Thursday January 21, 2016

Saturday January 23, 2016

Thursday January 28, 2016
@ UL Monroe

Saturday January 30, 2016
@ UL Lafayette

Thursday, February 4, 2016
@ Georgia Southern

Saturday, February 6, 2016
@ Georgia State

Tuesday, February 9, 2016
@ Texas State

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016
@ Little Rock

Saturday, February 27, 2016
@ Arkansas State

Tuesday March 1, 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

1 comment:

  1. Found an article from The News Star, which covers Louisiana Tech, UL Monroe and Grambling State, two of which appear on UTA's schedule.


    It would appear the the Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational offers numerous benefits to UTA, assuming they get the same deal as La Tech..

    La Tech will receive $125,000 from the tournament, all revenue from their one home game (UTA) and the tournament is exempt, meaning the games don't count against the cap on games (27).

    From a UTA perspective, think about this. UTA plays 31 games this year, 15 at home and 16 on the road. Outside of the tournament, their regular schedule would have 14 at home and 13 on the road. Pretty. nice.

    BTW, if you read the article, you noticed how first year coach, Eric Konkol, said he came into the program with a lot of schedule holes to fill. I'm sure UTA would help with a home-and-home.