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The Non-Conference Basketball Schedules Came Out. Men = Marshmallows. Women = Whoa.

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Two teams at two different places in their development with philosophies: one artificially padding a win total during Year -3, and one aiming for a single-digit strength of schedule.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Connecticut at South Florida
Screw it: I’m throwing it deep.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Something we (ok, I... sorry but this isn’t paying the bills) failed to write about is the release of both the men’s and women’s basketball schedules. The conference schedules will come out at a later date, but you can ascertain a lot about a program by how they schedule.

We’ll start with the men, who have nine new players of various degrees of experience, but none of whom stand out as legends at any level of basketball so far.

FAU Nov. 10th
Morgan State Nov. 13th
@ Stetson Nov. 15th
@ Indiana Nov. 19th
Howard Nov. 22nd
Arkansas State Nov. 24th
Eastern Michigan Nov. 26th
@ Elon Nov. 30th
@ Appalachian State Dec. 2nd
FIU Dec. 11th
BC-U Dec. 14th
Northern Arizona Dec. 18th
Charlotte Dec. 21

Enjoy paying face value for those nine dates, men’s season ticket holders!

As a blog we are quite excited to take a trip to Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Any chance you get to play in a cathedral of the game is always special. I was lucky enough to go to Allen Fieldhouse with the Bulls in 2011, and that was magical. Part of what makes college basketball great is the pageantry of the sport, and checking IU off the bucket list will be pretty cool.

And then there’s the rest of the schedule, which... guh. This thing should be sponsored by Sprinkles in Hyde Park Village, as they can bring that Cupcake ATM to the games for a timeout contest. There haven’t been this many refugees in the Sun Dome since it was used as a hurricane shelter.

The exception is Charlotte, who USF has a great history facing from the Sun Belt/Metro/C-USA days. Guys like Jobey Thomas (who was the color analyst on the ESPN3 broadcast of the Tampa Bulls buzzer beater) and Diego Guevara are first ballot entrants to the Bull Killers Hall of Fame. Those of us that attended the conference tournaments back in the day also learned to love UNCC because of the fans, because they were a school a lot like ours... just without football, which they have now.

But otherwise, the Bulls are looking to pad the win total as much as possible before entering an improved AAC schedule this season. It’s not just Wichita State: the league on the whole should be better.

And then there’s the women, whose scheduling philosophy is apparently...

LSU Nov. 10th
Houston Baptist Nov. 12th
Arkansas State Nov. 17th
Butler Nov. 20th
@ Gulf Coast Showcase (FGCU Tournament, TBA) Nov. 24-26
@ George Washington Dec. 2nd
@ Oklahoma Dec. 9th
Southern Dec. 15th
@ FIU Dec. 17th
Vs. Baylor (New Orleans) Dec. 20th
Vs. Michigan State (New Orleans) Dec. 21st
Ohio State Feb. 11th

MY GOD, KING, THAT SCHEDULE HAS A FAMILY!!

That’s four teams that have been to a Final Four since 2005, not counting the FGCU Tournament which generally draws multiple Top 10 teams. It might be the toughest OOC schedule in team history, and it’s a squad that has never failed to challenge itself under Jose Fernandez.

“We have a majority of our team returning with a very good recruiting class,” Fernandez said. “Our next step for this program is to get to the second weekend in March. Our program is a Top 25 program and this schedule reflects that.”

Add in the two (and often three) UConn games, plus an improved AAC in general with Tulane and C. Florida making strides, and USF will be in the mix for the #1 RPI strength of schedule slot at the end of the year.

The Bulls return all the key pieces but Ari Pujol, but she is replaced by two fellow Spaniards and five-star freshmen in Silvia Serrat and Alba Prieto. Also add in highly-touted redshirt freshman point guard Enna Pehadzic who missed last year with an ACL tear.

Not a lot of this piece should shock you from the above: the women’s team should be loaded and fun, and the men’s team is rebuilding. It’s going to take Brian Gregory some time, and a lot of patience from fans, to catch up to his counterparts across the Muma Center. We fully intend to give it to him: his job is really tough.

But our early look at 2017-18 USF Basketball is: same as it ever was.