While we have known most of the non-conference opponents for some time now, today the Wake Forest basketball program officially released their 2015-2016 non-conference schedule. When you see it on paper, it is somewhat overwhelming. Danny Manning believes in challenging his teams in the non-conference, and there is no doubt that Wake Forest will be challenged.
UMBC should be a guaranteed win, but outside of that game and a home game against UNC Greensboro, there are no free wins. Wake faces two SEC opponents, two excellent mid-majors in Richmond and Xavier, has road trips to Bucknell and Rutgers, and faces a Coastal Carolina team who has won its conference each of the past two seasons.
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It's well-worth pointing out that this year's Maui Invitational features a number of very good teams. The field includes Kansas, Indiana, UCLA, St. John's, UNLV, Vanderbilt, and Chaminade. Wake Forest will play at least three of those teams, and more than half of that field is a potential NCAA Tournament team.
This schedule clearly demonstrates that Danny Manning's basketball program is not going to cut corners or schedule weak non-conference opponents in order to artificially inflate win totals. Manning is not one for moral victories and has said that his vision is to "cut down nets." You don't cut down nets without beating excellent teams.
This non-conference schedule is one of the hardest I have seen from an Atlantic Coast Conference team. There will be no guessing how well Wake Forest will do in the ACC after the non-conference, because the Demon Deacons will have played high caliber teams by the time the conference seasons starts in January. We'll know if the Deacs are ready.
What are your thoughts on the non-conference schedule?