Saturday, August 11, 2012

The full schedule released: preliminary thoughts

At last - the schedule has arrived
Friday, August 10th UNLV finally released the conference portion of the schedule. Now we know what lies ahead for the Runnin' Rebels all season. Here are some preliminary thoughts:

Hectic November:

Here is a breakdown of where the games fall in each month.
6 in November (includes exhibition)
8 in December
8 in January
7 in February
3, then likely 4 MWC Tournament games + NCAAs in March

Even though November is a low month when totaling games, because of the Global Sports Classic, not counting the exhibition game, we play 5 games in the span of 16 days. Besides March, games do not come in  such frequency as they do during this stretch. In our favor, guys will be fresh and all of those games will be played at home. But, there are several formidable opponents, Oregon, Cincinnati, or Iowa State - any of them could pose a challenge.

Limited road exposure:

Last season, road woes (including against inferior opponents) made for a rocky road leading into the tournament. This season, road exposure is limited with one glaring omission - UNC. The Rebels will play 13* road games (one is at the Orleans against a garbage D-III opponent) and 18 home games (not including MWC Tournament, or the exhibition game). Given that we were perfect at home last year, not including post-season play, with what on-paper was a less talented team, it should not be much of a stretch to believe that we can again remain perfect at the Thomas and Mack. Last year, the Rebels played 17 home games (not including post-season or exhibition play) and 15 road games (2 at the Orleans).

The most "dangerous" part of the schedule (again not including the UNC game) occurs between January 9, 2013 and February 6th. This is where the highest frequency of road games occurs. Five of the eight games that take place during that stretch are on the road and many of those opponents are of high caliber. If explainable losses occur, it will likely occur during that stretch.

TV coverage

Coinciding with the release of the conference schedule, partial television coverage information was also disclosed. At this point, with the demise of The Mtn, what's left is a hodgepodge of NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network, ESPN family of channels, and maybe a local channel bringing a game to air. (See previous article on this topic).

Two observations: First, is ESPN in wait and see mode? Besides the UNC game, which they're likely already contracted with to televise games, they have not yet signed on for any Rebels games. Are they waiting to see how good this team really is, even though they may end up paying more for the gambit? Just sayin, a little surprised that no ESPN pickups as of yet.  Second, no release of any TV info (for the 11th time besides the UNC game) for the non-conference schedule is a little disheartening. That schedule has been out for over a month if not longer, and UNLV should likely have lined up the previously mentioned networks to air those games. There is no logical reason in my mind as to why it wasn't also publicized right now, other than those games have less confirmed suitors than the conference schedule - which would look bad to publish. For everyone's sake - I honestly hope I'm wrong, but cannot see another reason right now... As someone who plans on attending games, like the rest of you I'm hoping we can at least lock down television broadcast for road games. Alleviating all fears, tournaments are normally broadcasted - so the Global Sports Classic in November will most likely be on TV.

Early road tests (in-conference)

What's already been mentioned by the LVRJ and LV Sun is that when we hit the road the hardest in-conference tests will come early. This is true, as San Diego State, New Mexico, and Colorado State will all be tough foes. Got to face them some time, no better time than early.

Weak road ending (implications)

The Rebels don't have much road exposure coming into the home stretch, and that could potentially be a problem. The Rebels have only 3 road games from mid-February to post-season play. So, that means (taking that same time frame into consideration and provided we get to the MWC final) 8 games at the Thomas and Mack and 3 road games coming into the NCAAs, which is a road game albeit a neutral site road game. Many will say that our road weakness last season was an early indicator of what eventually occurred against Colorado. So, not having road challenges near the end is a bit of a problem, and the natural consequence of playing our tougher conference opponents on the road early. Hopefully, this isn't a hindrance come tournament time.

Just really glad they have finally released the schedule. Mark your calendars and plan accordingly, its going to be a hell of a season!

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