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Who needs to be on #BrutalityWatch in 2018?

Losing a buy game. It’s the epitome of brutality.

NCAA Basketball: Wofford at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A wise man once said that losing a buy game is the epitome of brutality. In fact, as a credit to the mid-majors of Division I, he needed to say it 35 times last year alone.

This year, the epitome of brutality is back with a vengeance. Brutality is hungry. It has had a taste of high-major blood, and it wants more.

Schedule release season is a special time for mid-majors. Calendar dates get circled as fans and programs alike hone in on the programs that will feel their wrath.

Last year saw blueblood programs like North Carolina and Indiana (ed. note: not a blueblood) fall victim to brutality. Countless others were on the losing end as they paid a team to come into their own gym before getting bit by the brutality bug.

Brutality strikes when we least expect it, but it’s never too early to circle a few games that should have teams on #BRUTALITYWATCH.

UMBC at Marquette, Nov. 6

UMBC was a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They played Virginia, who was a 1 seed. UMBC won by 20. Folks, have you seen this? Have you heard about this?

Marquette will open its first season at the brand new Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center by hosting the Retrievers. It’d be a real shame if UMBC were to ruin their special night. A REAL SHAME.

Buffalo at West Virginia, Nov. 9

Two teams that won games in the NCAA Tournament last year. Buffalo is the heavy MAC favorite, and actually had a fairly low turnover rate last year despite playing up-tempo. It’s no secret that West Virginia is an exhausting team to play. It’ll be opening night for both teams, and it’s going to be fast-paced. This one is going to be exciting.

Ball State at Purdue, Nov. 10

Ball State and Tayler Persons were not afraid of the big stage. Just ask Notre Dame. The Cardinals bring back a lot of their core, and Purdue loses almost all of its starting five, except for Carsen Edwards. Ball State went 4-0 against in-state opponents last year. Is it time to ask ourselves if they’re the best program in the state of Indiana? You tell me.

Wofford at Stanford, Nov. 16
Wofford at Oklahoma, Nov. 18

Wofford won our most famous brutality game last year when they took down North Carolina in Chapel Hill. This year, they’ll have ample opportunity, especially on this road trip against two Power 5 teams that project to be near the bottom of their conferences. Fletcher Magee will come into your arena, burn it down with threes, and then collect the insurance money.

College of Charleston at Oklahoma State, Nov. 18

The Cougars bring back a lot of key pieces from a team that very nearly knocked off Auburn in the NCAA Tournament. Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley form one of the best 1-2 punches around. Oklahoma State projects to be towards the bottom of the Big 12. Not saying it’s gonna happen, but you do the math.

Northeastern at Syracuse, Dec. 4

I’m going to posit a take: the CAA is going to deliver the most brutality next season. Northeastern is going to be really, really good next year. The Huskies have shooters that can be effective against the plague that is Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. This is a prime spot for Vasa Pusica to break onto the national scene.

Marshall at Virginia, Dec. 31

Wins in the 2018 NCAA Tournament: Marshall (1), Virginia (0). This game is gonna be fun as hell, guys.

Harvard at North Carolina, Jan. 2

According to Bart Torvik’s T-Rank site, Harvard returns 99.1 percent of its minutes from last year. Those are the kind of teams that can go into a place like North Carolina and pull an upset. Now, North Carolina is going to be really, really good next year. But Harvard is the likely Ivy League favorite, and usually have a schedule that tests them in the non-conference. Wofford showed that the Tar Heels can be vulnerable in Chapel Hill. Harvard has the pieces to get it done.