The 2017-2018 college basketball is in the rearview mirror, and it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2018-2019 season.
BYU’s roster is still in flux, as Yoeli Childs has put his name in the NBA draft (with the option to return to BYU) and Elijah Bryant likely to do the same. If BYU returns at least one of those two, however, the Cougars will still have a chance to fight for an at-large bid.
With non-conference scheduling as important as ever, as evidenced by St Mary’s NCAA tournament snub, BYU will need to beef up its out-of-conference slate if they want to end a three-year NCAA tournament drought. With the WCC moving from a 18- to 16-game conference schedule, BYU will have a couple more opportunities to schedule solid opponents.
Basketball schedules can be built with relatively short notice, as evidenced by Nevada scheduling multiple quality games last offseason. Dave Rose said a few weeks ago that BYU needs to beef up its schedule if the Cougars want to go dancing:
For now, we know BYU has non-conference games with Utah (neutral), UVU (home), Utah State (home), Weber State (away) and Illinois State (away).
Here are five teams BYU should call to work out home-and-home agreements.
Coming off a final four appearance, the fightin’ Sister Jeans will look to reload as they return three of five starters (including its top two scorers). Loyola’s only quality non-conference games were at Boise State and Florida, so they will no doubt be looking to beef up their schedule as well.
With most power conference teams unlikely to want to play in Loyola’s 4,486 seat arena and hesitant to pay a team of Loyola’s caliber as a “buy game”, BYU has a great opportunity to work out a home-and-home with the Ramblers.
BYU should be a top 75 team next year, and Loyola will be a preseason top 25 team (ESPN has them as 17 in their preseason early poll), so it seems like a win-win for both sides.
After a 9-22 season, the Huskies turned around things in Mike Hopkins first year to finish 21-13 and qualify for the NIT.
What makes Washington more of a possibility is that Dave Rice is one the Huskies assistants. Rice was a BYU assistant from 2005-2011. BYU assistant Tim Lacomb tweeted a picture of him with Rice and Schroyer at last weeks final four coaches meetings.
BYU would love to have the Huskies in the Marriott Center, but this may be a case where Washington doesn’t see the same benefit from their side. Rice knows how hard it is to win in Provo and may not want to send the Huskies on the road to a team that has missed the tourney three years in a row.
BYU has had Pac 12 teams come to the Marriott Center in the past few years (Utah, Colorado and Stanford), and the connection with Rice at least warrants BYU trying to negotiate a series with Washington.
Dave Rose’s alma mater finished in the top 25 and won a NCAA tournament game before falling to national runner-up Michigan by a single point. Houston loses its leading scorer to graduation, but returns enough where they will still be a formidable team.
The AAC is a conference where I’ve felt BYU has could schedule more quality games, and a Houston series makes sense for both sides. Both teams need quality non-league games and Dave Rose has the connection from his playing days at Houston.
BYU had a four-year stretch where they played Boise State every year from 2003-2006, but haven’t matched up with the Broncos since.
Both teams have the obvious connection with their football series, and Boise State has been a good basketball program over the past decade, including 6 straight finishes in the KenPom top 100.
Power conference teams may be hesitant to come to Provo, but scheduling Boise State seems like an easy solution for two teams who struggle to get good programs to play in their arenas.
That football game went well, right?
After three straight losing seasons, Nebraska turned things around in 2018 with 22 wins and a fourth-place finish in the Big Team. The Cornhuskers missed the NCAA tournament, however, due in large part to their lackluster non-conference schedule.
Tim Miles enters his seventh season as Nebraska’s head coach needing a NCAA tournament appearance to feel safe about his job. Miles was the head coach at Colorado State from 2007-2012, so he is familiar with BYU and Coach Rose and Coach Lacomb.
With Nebraska needing to beef up its non-league schedule and BYU coaches having the relationship with Miles, Nebraska seems like a feasible power conference team with whom BYU could land a home-and-home series.