Monday, September 26, 2016

2016/17 Men's Basketball Schedule

Unquestionably, the 2016/17 men's basketball season is the most anticipated at UT Arlington ever, at least by me since I became a student in 2000. You may have to go all the way back to the very early 1980's to find some similar anticipation. Back then, the Southland Conference was one of the best non-major conferences, repeatedly sending teams into later rounds of the NCAA tournament. From 1979-1985, an SLC team won at least one game in the end-of-year tourney except in 1982.

Once the SLC split after UTA dropped their football program, losing Lamar and Louisiana Tech primarily, the conference's basketball stature dropped tremendously. In that seven-year time frame above, SLC teams won eight NCAA tournament games. In the 28 years since, the conference won a total five games. Two have been from Stephen F. Austin St in the last three years and two were the 16-seed vs. 16-seed for the righ to be slaughtered by a 1 seed.

So UTA started winning games in the SLC, but I'm still not convinced it has everything to do with the dropping of football and the allocation of more resources for the basketball team. That certainly is a factor, but the decline in the level of talent from the conference as a whole has at least just as much a say if not more.

I've been convinced the 1980/1981 UTA team that received an at-large berth into the National Invitational Tournament has been the most talented team UTA has ever fielded, beating the 1990-91 team that went 20-9, the NCAA tournament team of 2007-08 that went 21-12 and even the 2011-12 team that won a school record 24 games en route to their first outright SLC championship.

But the 1980/81 squad may finally take a back seat to this year's team, which is where the anticipation comes from.

I called it last year, stating the schedule shaped up to be one which would set an attendance record. UTA set an average per game record of 2,888 spectators per game, shattering the old mark set by that 1980/81 team of 2,291. The old attendance mark of total fans in a season, 29,524 set in 2012/13, was broken last year as well. 43,318 total attendees went to College Park Center last basketball season.

I'm not gonna call a record this year, as the schedule just doesn't excite me like it did last year. Aside from the UNT game, none of the non-conference games get me going. I like the fact that we are scheduling some top teams from the non-Power 5 conferences, but going to California and Florida to find them are not ideal to me.

Last year, teams like Louisiana Tech, Rice and UTEP appeared with UNT. Aside from another (sigh...) guarantee game with the University of Texas-Austin, the only other non-conference game with local flavor is Texas Southern. The most exciting part of this game will be the homecoming atmosphere and the fact that UTA has a chance to even the all-time series. Otherwise, a SWAC team just doesn't do much for RPI or getting the team prepped for the season.

I'm okay with some of the long distance match-ups. St. Mary's in California is part of the West Coast Conference and with their conference counterpart Gonzaga, have made it one of the top non-P5 Conferences in the country. Should be a good match-up.

Bradley is on the schedule again. It will be interesting to see how Coach Brian Wardle proceeds. Bradley was the youngest team in Division I last year with ten true freshman on the roster. Also, I thought the series was complete last year. I am interested to see if UTA has signed a new home-and-home contract or if the original was a 2-1. I am hopeful it is a new series.

Loyola Marymount will be the second WCC team on UTA's schedule. They'll be looking to rebound as they haven't had a winning season in four years, but Head Coach Mike Dunlap is entering his third season and was only three games away from .500 last year. They return three starters and seven letterwinners, so it is possible they'll get over the hump in the tough WCC this year.

It would appear that UTA is again in a preseason tournament-type format with visits to Minnesota and Arkansas while Mount St. Mary's, a Northeast Conference team from Maryland, comes to CPC. Don't know if a reminder is in order, but UTA played in a similar format last year and picked up wins at Ohio St and Memphis.

Coach Scott Cross was quoted as saying that putting together this year's schedule was one of the most challenging he's ever had to put together. I believe it. I have never understood why teams so close together are so adverse to playing each other. They'd rather max their budget playing teams further away rather than play a University that students and locals know. I'm looking squarely at you TCU and SMU.

Interested to know why Rice didn't appear on the schedule. I'm certain they weren't a guarantee game last year. We played them at their place, and I was expecting a return trip. I'll inquire and update when I receive the answer.

At any rate, looking at this year's slate, I'm not as stoked as last year. But looking at the silver lining, if this team can set an attendance record like last year, they are going to have to do it on their own merits. And it is very possible. In fact, it's a challenge I like. Win and the crowds will come. I've always believed that. Previous UTA teams have need names to drive the crowds, like UNT, Oklahoma or TCU. This year, they may be the sole reason people show up to CPC.

All non-conference games start at 7:00 pm, except Texas Southern, where homecoming activities push back the start to 7:30 pm. All conference Saturday games tip off at 4:30 pm while Monday's will see a 7 pm tip.

Saturday November 12, 2016

Monday November 14, 2016
@ Minnesota

Wednesday November 16, 2016
@ Florida Gulf Coast

Friday November 20, 2016
@ Arkansas

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wednesday November 23, 2016

Saturday November 26, 2016
@ Fordham

Tuesday November 29, 2016
@ Texas-Austin

Saturday December 3rd, 2016
@ North Texas

Monday December 5th, 2016

Thursday December 8th, 2016
@ Saint Mary's (California)

Friday December 16, 2016
@ Bradley

Thursday December 22, 2016
@  Loyola Marymount

Saturday December 31, 2016

Monday January 2, 2017

Saturday January 7, 2017
@ Texas St

Saturday January 14, 2017
@ Troy

Monday January 16, 2017
@ South Alabama

Saturday January 21, 2017
UL Monroe

Monday January 23, 2017

Saturday January 28, 2017
@ Appalachian St

Monday, January 30, 2017
@ Coastal Carolina

Saturday February 4, 2017

Saturday February 11, 2017

Monday February 13, 2017

Saturday February 18, 2017
@ Georgia St

Monday February 20, 2017
@ Georgia Southern

Saturday February 25, 2017

Monday February 27, 2017

Saturday March 2, 2017
@ UL Monroe

Monday March 3, 2017
@  Louisiana

1 comment:

  1. You might not want to overlook Texas Southern as just "another" SWAC team. Do a little research on their coach, roster, and success the past few years since that coach has arrived. UTA is a good mid-major team, but I wouldn't overlook TSU as you have done in your schedule analysis. Hint...Derrick GRIFFIN is playing basketball all season this year...