Some things in life shouldn’t be rushed. A hastily written cover letter could doom an otherwise flawless resume. Popping the question while you’re still in the honeymoon phase of a relationship could be unwise. Blaze through your PSAT, and you could miss a stupid probability question involving pairs of socks (I am not bitter, I swear).
The Grand Canyon Antelopes could’ve taken their time and released a better schedule.
The ‘Lopes are the first mid-major program on the west coast with a full non-conference schedule. Although this news is fantastic during this insufferable slog of an offseason, their underwhelming home slate is a little bit of a letdown. For those who want to cut to the chase instead of watching the video @GCU_MBB tweeted, TAke a look, y’all:
Home games: Montana State-Billings (Exhibition), Delaware State, Jacksonville, Arkansas State, Boise State, Mississippi Valley State, Eastern New Mexico
Away/Neutral site games: South Dakota State, Nevada, Texas, Northern Iowa, three in the Wooden Legacy
Another cupcake-heavy home schedule? Really, guys?
Yes, the scheduling plight of mid-majors has been well-documented in recent years. And yes, the best Power 5 teams really don’t have anything to prove by traveling to GCU Arena and shellacking a team from the WAC. While complaining about scheduling is easy for a dummy like me, coordinating with opposing head coaches, juggling not one, but two future schedules while planning home-and-home series and budgeting travel expenses — all while factoring in finals schedule constraints and geography — is rather difficult.
But given the number of formidable mid-major opponents on the west coast, hosting more bottom-200 teams for the fifth straight year is unacceptable. As one of the mid-major programs on the rise, GCU should schedule more aggressively than this.
This begs the question: How bad is their home schedule?
Delaware State was KenPom’s second-worst team last season; the Hornets won their first game against a Division I opponent on Feb. 19. Mississippi Valley State hasn’t cracked the top 300 on KenPom since 2011. Jacksonville won 15 games (yay?), but four of them were against non-D1 opponents (not good!). Arkansas State lost its head coach to North Texas two seasons ago, and has yet to find its footing. It goes without saying that all of these teams finished under .500.
Disregard the exhibition game and the random February bout against Eastern New Mexico, and that leaves Boise State — the lone good team on the home schedule.
But there’s not a dearth of competition on the west coast. Pick almost any west coast mid-major that finished in the bottom half of its conference, and it’s guaranteed to be a better game. A game against say, Long Beach State, Colorado State, Weber State or Pacific would be better than walloping another MEAC team. And if the ‘Lopes really need their sub-300 team fix, starting an in-state series with Northern Arizona would be an easy solution from purely a logistics standpoint.
If there’s anything GCU’s schedule did well, then it’s the road slate. Kudos to GCU for facing three NCAA Tournament teams on the road — especially since two of those are a kick-ass Nevada team and the Fightin’ Mike Daums. Northern Iowa will probably finish in the top-half of the Missouri Valley. Plus the ‘Lopes will have plenty of opportunities to rack up quality wins against a solid Wooden Legacy field (the matchups will be announced later this summer).
Another underwhelming home slate is not only a disservice to the team’s postseason resume, but also to the fans. GCU gave its notoriously raucous fanbase a helping of games that will probably be over by halftime. Wouldn’t it be a win-win for both the team and the fans to schedule a bit tougher than this?
Let’s hope GCU does a better job next season.