Usually not strictly newsworthy, but I'm talking about it for two reasons: first, we've officially hit the doldrums. The only thing left is just waiting for Antonio Barton or some other transfer, and maybe a little bit of manufactured recruiting news from time to time. Other than that, it's all lax, all the time. So this is a welcome basketball-ish respite.
The other reason: everyone's become obsessed with SOS after the tournament mini-debacle this year, and probably rightfully so. (Although the committee can sometimes be hyper-sensitive to criticism, meaning next year's committee may very well swing the pendulum back the other way.) Usually in a tournament like this, you're guaranteed something like two decent opponents you can stick on a resumé at the end of the year. In the Paradise Jam, with this field...not so much. The field matters.
Or, rather, mattered, because it's set now. The full bracket is here; in short, Maryland starts off with Marist in the first round, then gets the winner of Northern Iowa-Loyola Marymount (assuming they win), and then one of Providence, Vanderbilt, Morgan State, and La Salle. Put another way: there were four palatable opponents in this field, and three of them are on the wrong side. Marist is likely to be quite bad next season; Loyola Marymount will stand no chance against Northern Iowa, and so the second-round opponent will be against a decent mid-major but not a team likely to make the tourney. I was hoping for the possibility of Providence or La Salle in the second round, either of which would look not-half-bad on a tournament resumé, then getting the other in the final. Even Vanderbilt had the potential to be solid. If the basketball gods were really generous, they'd have started with Vanderbilt and then gotten Providence and La Salle to round things out. Instead, they'll probably draw one team that'll help them out come March.
Shame, but it just reinforces that the schedule, in its current form, isn't quite good enough. The presence of Connecticut is welcome, and they'll get another solid game here and hopefully draw someone like Iowa in the B1G-ACC. But you really need four or five high-quality games, which means another home-and-home or two, or a neutral site game - Villanova in Baltimore, or something like that? - is necessary.
Yes, I just overanalyzed a preseason tournament schedule. The slow months, man. They drive you crazy. But if you want to talk basketball scheduling, here's the place to do it - and if you want a late-November trip to the Virgin Islands, at least you know the schedule.
Update: Not the only big scheduling news today: Oregon State is also on the schedule now, per Alex Prewitt. The Beavers were a pretty poor team in the Pac-12 last year, and have been relevant twice in the past, oh, five years or so. They don't really contribute to being a big-name team you could stick on a resumé, but they're not going to hurt RPI or SOS and that matters. They were 14-18 last year, but they lose only one contributor from last year; five of their top six scorers return. Crazier things have happened than a team with their profile getting on the bubble. Turgeon and Craig Robinson go way back, which helps explain things to some degree, and hey, they'll probably get the President to the game. So long as this isn't the marquee home-and-home, it's not a terrible secondary package.