The 2014 non-conference slate is set for Wakeand the guys at Blogger So Dear are chatting about it. Check out the banter below and let us know what your thoughts are on the schedule.
1. What game are you most looking forward to on the Wake Forest slate?
Riley: Arkansas is a very interesting game. They usually present a pretty unique and tough challenge down in Fayetteville. It is also a team that we don't see on the schedule year in and year out. Should be a fun one.
Samurai: I'm really intrigued about the Minnesota game, because that's part of the new look ACC/B1G Challenge, and Minnesota has been a really solid program the past few years, so how we perform against them could be an interesting barometer of sorts.
Rob: I'm looking forward to the game at Arkansas. This is a team who should make the NCAA Tournament, and it will be a very strong early road test.
Bart: I'm most excited for the best team on the schedule that we face: Florida. It will be a fun experience for the guys to head down to the Sunshine State a few days before Christmas, and it will be a good test to see where the team is right before conference play starts.
2. Similarly, which game presents the biggest yawner for you - which game are you least looking forward to?
Riley: The Delaware State game on Black Friday won't exactly be very entertaining. From a KenPom perspective it is the worst game of the year. I doubt there will be many people at that one.
Samurai: As previously stated, that Delaware State game....yeah.
Rob: Delaware State for the reasons mentioned above.
Bart: Yeah it's a broken record, but the Delaware State game will be bad. Wake has never lost to a team from the MEAC and it's unlikely they start this year against a horrible Delaware State team. This game is also on Black Friday and nobody will be there.
3. Rated on a scale of one (easiest) to ten (hardest), where would you say this non-conference schedule falls and why?
Riley: Hard to say without looking at some form of statistical analytics, but I'd place this around a 6.5. There are an interesting mix of teams in there. Arkansas, Minnesota, Florida will be pretty tough, and there are some tricky mid-majors in there that are typically solid (Richmond, Bucknell, Princeton) as well. Definitely a better schedule than we have seen the past couple of years.
Samurai: I'd give it a solid 7. Some weak games in there (which I actually think is good, all considered) but between Florida, Minnesota, Richmond, and heck, even Arkansas and Iona, there's a good mixture of moderate to strong opponents in there too.
Rob: I think it's a solid 8. Six games against top 101 teams, according to KenPom's final 2013 ratings, and three true road games.
Bart: I'd give it about a 7. It's a hard road schedule with games at Arkansas, at Richmond, and at Tulane. While Tulane and Richmond should be wins, there are no guarantees there and the game against Arkansas is almost certain to be a battle. It will be a sink or swim type start to the season with two road games in the first three games, after opening at home with UNC-Asheville.
4. It's a long ways out, but of the 13 games in the non-con schedule how many do you expect to win?
Riley: It's always difficult to make guesses like this in early July, but I think if we can get to 10 non-conference wins it would put us about on track with where we need to be. I expect that we will take at least 1/3 out of three "tough" games above, but we may trip up to a team that we "should" beat as the team meshes throughout the pre-season.
Samurai: I'm gonna see us losing to Florida, Richmond, Arkansas, and making Iona and Minnesota tossups. This being said, I'll make Iona and Minnesota each half a loss and say we'll win a decent 9 of 13 non-conference games.
Rob: I'd guess around 7. Some difficult opponents and the home schedule isn't full of cupcakes like last year's first five games were.
Bart: Obviously a long ways out, but just going through the schedule and making a "gut" pick I had us winning 8 games, losing to Arkansas, Iona, Minnesota, Florida, and Richmond.
5. Overall, what are your thoughts on the schedule? Too easy, too hard, just right? Good balance of games, or bad matchups?
Riley: I think it's a pretty good balance between tough, mediocre, and cupcake city. There are some fun games that I am looking forward to, but also some snoozers. Hopefully we can seek the revenge on Iona from two years ago that we all so desperately want. In all seriousness, it should be a good test for a team that won't have a lot of experience playing together. The cupcakes will get the guys comfortable in their roles, while the tougher tests will be good for the resolve of the team. There are a lot of questions about the future of this team, and this will be a good way to see what we may be in for come conference season.
Samurai: I actually think this is a pretty perfect non-con schedule, and is especially fascinating between the unusual matchups and the new direction the program is taking. Fingers crossed that Coach Manning's tenure here gets off to a good or even great start.
Rob: I believe it's a good mix of good and bad teams, but it's a harder schedule than I would like to face.
Bart: I think that it's a pretty good schedule. Like Rob, I think it's somewhat difficult but I think a lot of these games have been set for a while. The Florida game is a good chance to play a top team, and the Arkansas road game is part of the four-game Roundball Showcase. With Richmond and Tulane already road games we were locked into, it doesn't look like Manning scheduled a very difficult portion of the schedule beyond potentially agreeing to play at Arkansas instead of pressing for them to come to Winston. All-in-all I'm pretty excited about this slate.
Thanks as always to these guys for chiming in on their thoughts about Wake basketball. What do you all think? Is this a good schedule, is it too easy, too hard, how will Wake fare? Give us your thoughts and comments below and as always go Deacs.