MWC out of conference schedule strength

There is an art to scheduling, especially in a conference like the Mountain West that does not always get respect from the NCAA committee. A good schedule should have enough quality opponents to make the committee take notice, but also enough easy wins so that a team can ensure a number of wins.

Here is one person's ranking of the toughest schedules.

1. UNLV
The Good: Hawaii (twice), at Arizona, at Nevada, South Florida, Minnesota, at Texas Tech, at Houston
The Bad: E. Washington, Washburn, at Northern Arizona, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Norfolk State
The Skinny: The Rebels play four teams from high major conferences, and two ranked teams.
UNLV has the toughest overall schedule in terms of quality teams and tough places to play. They face two ranked teams and both are road games. Even some of their mid-major foes are potentially tough.

2. BYU
The Good: at UCLA, at Michigan State, Seton Hall
The Bad: Idaho State, Portland, Sah Jose State, at Lamar, Western Oregon, Liberty
The Skinny: In late december the Cougars play three straight schools with religious afilitiations in Liberty, Oral Roberts and Seton Hall.
BYU plays two storied programs and another who is consistently good. They also play a lot of teams that look to be automatic wins. Oral Roberts may be a tougher game than anyone assumed.

3. San Diego State
The Good: Cal, Arizona, at Washington State, at Murray State
The Bad: Seattle Pacific, UC San Diego, Cal-Riverside, San Diego, Campbell, Lafayette
The Skinny: The Aztecs play three Pac-10 teams, getting top-two to come to Cox Arena.
SDSU plays more middle of the road teams than most teams in the league. Teams like Murray State, Saint Mary's and Loyola Marymount are better than they look on paper. Arizona is an elite program and Cal has the potential to be good.

4. New Mexico
The Good: Colorado, Kansas State, New Mexico State (twice), at Utep, Wichita State, at Texas Tech
The Bad:Abilene Christian, Sacramento State, Longwood, Charleston Southern, Alcorn State
The Skinny: Their first five games are at the Pit, and their first 15 games will be played in New Mexico and Colorado.
The Lobos have a solid schedule, playing a number of NCAA and NIT teams from a year ago. They have also loaded the schedule with a number of easy wins, especially considering that the low majors have to come to New Mexico.

5. Air Force
The Good: at Stanford, at Colorado, Wake Forest, at George Washington
The Bad: Arkansas-Pine Bliff, Radford, IPFW, Texas Pan-Am, Colorado College, Norfolk State
The Skinny: The Falcons play three of their first four on the road.
Not a lot of middle ground for the Falcons. They either play high majors or low majors. Credit them for scheduling Stanford and for getting Wake Forest to come to Colorado Springs.

6. Wyoming
The Good: UAB, at Colorado, Wichita State, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The Bad: Colorado Mines, Denver, Lamar
The Skinny: The Cowboys play UAB in back-to-back games, one in Wyoming and the other in Birmingham.
> The Cowboys play a number of quality teams and some tough opponents from small conferences. They get a few mid-major darlings in UAB, Wichita State and Wisc-Milwaukee that have made some nice NCAA runs over the past three seasons.

7. Utah
The Good: Colorado, Washington State, at Utah State, at UCF
The Bad: Cal Poly, Albany
The Skinny: The Utes play more toss-up games than anyone else.
Utah's schedule is built on okay teams. They play very few patsies, but also limit the number of big time schools. Teams like Santa Clara, Rice, Rhode Island and Central Florida are all middle of the road programs.

8. TCU
The Good: Texas Tech, at Oklahoma, SMU, at Colorado
The Bad: Centenary, Stephen F. Austin. Texas-Arlington, Ark-Pine Bluff, Texas –SA
The Skinny: Seven of their non-conference opponents are based in the state of Texas.
Another schedule loaded with Big 12 opponents. Oklahoma and Texas Tech are big tests, but there should be a number of easy wins for the Horned Frogs.

9. Colorado State
The Good: Baylor, at Colorado, Kansas State
The Bad: Southern Colorado, Montana State, at Denver, Northern Colorado
The Skinny: The Rams' first ten games, and 12 of their first 13 games, are in the state of Colorado.
Colorado State does not play a single non-conference game against a team that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago. They have loaded up on small conference teams, lower division teams. Their only high major opponents are lesser teams from the Big 12, although Kansas State could be better than they have been in years' past.


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