With the departure of BYU, the WCC schedule during conference play gives each team two weeks of only a single WCC opponent. I didn’t look at every team, but it appears that only Gonzaga is availing itself of OOC opponents during conference play: they are heading to Kentucky in early Feb to play a highly-ranked Wildcats squad.
I wonder if other WCC teams have TRIED to schedule non-conference games in Jan/Feb 2024 but have been rebuffed?
I’m ambivalent about this. The Zags do it to mitigate the soft perception of the WCC. And they do it mid-conference play so that they potentially have a marquee win closer to Selection Sunday. But they are gambling (and this season it may be a big gamble) that they can travel to Lexington to play a huge game, and it won’t affect them meaningfully for their WCC games. This year, they have Portland at home, Kentucky in KY, and LMU in LA over an 8 day stretch. That’s not some crazy brutal schedule, but it’s much harder than a standard week in the WCC. And if LMU were to get the better of them, I bet Few rethinks the practice.
For SCU, I’m not sure what advantage a mid-conference OOC opponent would provide. SCU won’t get bought for a tune up like Chicago State did by the Zags last season. So it would have to be a peer–mid-major opponent with maybe outside NCAA Tourney hopes they are hoping to bolster. But that’s basically just like moving the Utah State game to February, and I’m not sure that offers any advantages for SCU. This is an area in which the Zags are just a different level of program. They can get Kentucky to set a random February game with them, and they are not too worried about dropping a WCC tilt as a result of the travel, excitement, etc. And the Zags-KY game will be a big revenue driver with ESPN. SCU-Utah State would be on FloSports or some third rate streamer.
The closest example I can think of for a non-Zag team was USF impromptu scheduling Loyola Chicago in 2022 (the year they went to the Tournament). That was technically before WCC play actually started, though. And USF lost, for what it’s worth. If SCU had gone 13-2 in the preseason and had tourney hopes, it could be prudent to try scheduling, say, Colorado State on a neutral to potentially get a win that would help put them over the edge. But that would be a rare circumstance. Better to just schedule well in the preseason (like SCU did) and win most of the good ones (like SCU did not).
Agree w/ Patty.
Other considerations…having the bye and light game week affords the opportunity for extra rest, rehab of nagging injuries, get more shots up in workouts for those in a shooting funk, etc. Or alternatively more days for ‘hard’ practices if desired; teams generally go easy on the day before game days, sometimes 2 days before in order to have fresh legs for the games.
In the case of the Broncos/HS, I’m not sure that MORE practice will result in any discernible improvement. Doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes is…well, you all know the rest of that tired but true saying.