When it comes to a mid-major's non-conference schedule, I'm not a huge believer in playing the best to get better. It's undebatable that you don't learn all that much from scrimmaging teams like St. Michael's or Concordia, but it is just as true that you don't learn anything from getting pounded by teams like BYU (that game last year was ugly). This is precisely why I love Vermont's 2011-2012 non-conference schedule: there are almost zero games where the Catamounts will be over their heads, and there aren't many games where they will be heavily favored.
I love the Harvard game. Harvard returns every player from last year's team that was tournament bound until Princeton hit a buzzer beater. That will be a tough early season test.
Old Dominion is another game that is no joke. They lose three of their top four scorers, but you can always count on the Monarchs to reload. I look at this game as replacing the George Mason game that was on the schedule for a few years. ODU is still a top-tier CAA team, and that is a good thing to have on your schedule as a mid-major.
Saint Louis is another nice game. They aren't the most formidable A-10 opponent you could hope for, but they are an A-10 team all the same.
Those are the three highlights from this year's non-conference schedule. Sure, it would have been nice to see the defending-champion Huskies on the schedule again, but would that really be productive? What did the Cats learn from that game last year? That they could hang with anyone in the country during one half of a basketball game. The Huskies ended up being a completely different team by the time the NCAA tournament came around. Better to play some competitive basketball and hope you get better as the season gets closer to March.
Three months until the start of the season, ladies and gentlemen. Three months.
I was born and raised in Vermont and I have been a UVM basketball enthusiast since the early 2000's. I recently graduated from Bard College in upstate New York, and then moved to Austin, Texas. While I have no problems with burnt orange, I will never get over green and gold. This blog aims to celebrate The Beasts of America East: the Vermont Catamounts.