With college hoops season a little more than a month away and non-conference schedules locked in across the city’s men’s and women’s Division I programs, the 2022-23 season is starting to zoom into focus.
Highlighted by early-season tournaments and a slew of high-profile road games, here’s our ranking of City Six men’s non-conference slates:
2021-22 Finish: (30-8, 16-4 Big East, NCAA Final Four)
2021-22 KenPom Non-Conference SOS: No. 14
Average Final NET of 2022-23 Non-Conference Opponents: 124
It could be considered an obvious choice, but it’s hard to ignore a schedule that will likely end up including matchups with six Power 5 conference programs.
Couple that with the annual quartet of games against Big 5 foes, and that leaves just one non-conference game for the Wildcats against a low-major opponent — Delaware State, Nov. 14.
Villanova’s non-conference hums right out of the gate with a pair of city opponents; the Wildcats open at home, Nov. 7, against La Salle, before a quick, four-day turnaround for a road game against Temple. A week later, ‘Nova is in East Lansing to face an always-formidable Michigan State side.
Within just a few days, Villanova then heads out west to Portland, Oregon for the PK Invitational, where it’ll open against Iowa State, which reached the Sweet 16 a year ago. Should the Wildcats win, they’ll likely face a North Carolina team that’s fresh off of a run to the national title game and returns pretty much all of the pieces that got it there.
Once Villanova returns from Oregon, it’s got Oklahoma, Penn and Boston College waiting in the span of a week.
Case in point, Villanova’s schedule is a gauntlet. It’s pretty hard not to rank it No. 1.
2021-22 Finish: (17-12, 10-7 American)
2021-22 KenPom Non-Conference SOS: No. 208
Average Final NET of 2022-23 Non-Conference Opponents: 139
Temple and head coach Aaro McKie should have one of the best non-conference schedules in the city, according to CoBL's Jeff Griffith. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Villanova’s non-conference schedule may have more star-power, but Temple did not shy away from Power 5 opponents in 2022-23.
For starters, the Owls will face two within the first eight days of their season, hosting Villanova (Nov. 11) and Vanderbilt (Nov. 1 5).
Temple’s also taking part in not just one, but two early-season events, back-to-back. The Owls will head to Uncasville, Connecticut Nov. 18 for the Hall of Fame Showcase, a doubleheader that will pit Temple against Rutgers, a 2022 NCAA Tournament qualifier.
The Owls’ next pair of games will both be played at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center as part of the Empire Classic. Temple opens its trip to the Big Apple against St. John’s, with a second game awaiting against either Richmond, the 2022 Atlantic 10 Tournament champion, or Syracuse.
Things calm down a bit from there, but the rest of the non-conference remainder schedule is no slouch, featuring four City 6 opponents, plus VCU and Ole Miss.
2021-22 Finish: (12-16, 9-5 Ivy)
2021-22 KenPom Non-Conference SOS: No. 22
Average Final NET of 2022-23 Non-Conference Opponents: 147
Following Villanova and Temple, it gets a little bit harder to split hairs.
After scheduling a KenPom Top 25 non-conference in 2021-22, Penn once again isn’t shying away from visiting Power 5 opponents. For starters, the Quakers travel to both Missouri and West Virginia within the season’s first two weeks. That’s part of a stretch that will feature Penn playing five of its first six games in true road atmospheres, with opponents to also include Iona, Drexel and Lafayette.
Once Penn’s challenging road trip comes to close, there’s plenty of home cooking; the Quakers will host a trio of games over Thanksgiving weekend as part of the Cathedral Classic, with home games against St. Joe’s and La Salle immediately to follow.
Following a stretch of five consecutive home contests, Penn has another true road game looming Dec. 7 against Villanova.
4. La Salle
2021-22 Finish: (11-19, 5-13 Atlantic 10)
2021-22 KenPom Non-Conference SOS: No. 353
Average Final NET of 2022-23 Non-Conference Opponents: 176
La Salle’s schedule gets the edge over Drexel’s on the wings of two key characteristics: multiple Power 5 opponents, and Villanova on the road.
After having one of the nation’s six easiest non-conference schedules a year ago, La Salle kicks off with just about as tough a season-opener as there is, taking on Villanova at Finneran Pavilion on Nov. 7.
The Explorers’ mid-November schedule features a trip to Montego Bay for the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic, where they’ll open against a Wake Forest team that narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament in 2021-22. La Salle’s time in Jamaica will also present a matchup with either Georgetown or Loyola Marymount, with a third and final matchup to be determined.
Before opening its Atlantic 10 slate, La Salle also takes a quick Dec. 17 trip to Cincinnati. The Bearcats went 18-15 a year ago.
5. Saint Joseph’s
2021-22 Finish: (11-19, 5-13 Atlantic 10)
2021-22 KenPom Non-Conference SOS: No. 217
Average Final NET of 2022-23 Non-Conference Opponents: 207
While its overall average of opponent isn’t all that high, St. Joe’s opens the season against possibly the best non-conference opponent any Philadelphia men’s team will face this season, Houston.
The Cougars have gone to a Final Four and an Elite Eight in the last two seasons, and are on many watch lists as a likely top-five team in 2022-23 due to a strong combination of returning production, impact transfers and a pair of Top 50 prospects. St. Joe’s will begin its season against said Houston squad, Nov. 11 in Annapolis as part of the Veterans Classic.
From there, though, there’s not a ton of standout challenges. St. Joe’s will face Georgia, and either UAB or South Florida, at the Sunshine Slam Nov. 21-22 in Daytona Beach, Fla. and have a road trip to Temple on the Big 5 slate.
2021-22 Finish: (15-14, 10-8 Colonial)
2021-22 KenPom Non-Conference SOS: No. 132
Average Final NET of 2022-23 Non-Conference Opponents: 202
Drexel’s non-conference schedule a year ago was above average in terms of difficulty, and this year’s slate has plenty of intrigue in its own right. When compared to La Salle’s and St. Joe’s 2022-23 non-conference slates, though, the Dragons get the slight reprieve of facing Villanova at home and play in a slightly-less-star-studded November tournament.
Drexel will, however, go on the road to Temple, Nov. 27, following its trip to Estero, Fla. for the Gulf Coast Showcase.
The Sunshine State event will pit the Dragons against UT-Arlington in their first game and follow against either Northern Kentucky, which reached the Horizon League finals last season, and Florida Gulf Coast, which went 22-12 in 2021-22.
Drexel also has a pair of true road games in the tri-state area in the middle of December; the Dragons head to La Salle Dec.10 before crossing the Delaware River for a trip to Seton Hall Dec.14.