The OOC portion is kinda, awkward....
It's pretty clear Tim Floyd is putting all his RPI boosting eggs in a neutral floor basket with UTEP's main, and pretty much only early RPI boosting opportunities in tournaments.
Granted, there aren't any guarantee road games, but neutral floor wins against Tennessee, and Xavier weren't sexy enough for 20-win teams of the past couple of seasons to boast a solid resume mark come selection Sunday.
UTEP jumps right into what could/should be some stiff compaction in Charleston, but other than that tourney, a road trip to New Mexico, and a possible matchup with Akron in the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. UTEP's "RPI statement games" are minimal.
Floyd flexes his Louisiana connection muscle (if that's a thing) with two directional schools Southeastern Louisiana, and Northwestern State after the Charleston classic in the midst of a long home stretch. So there's that in terms of home OOC games story lines.
It's good to see the home-and-home with NMSU still on the schedule, but its pretty disappointing that Washington State was unable to be booked at the Don for this season. Floyd said Wazzu will hit the Don next season.
The awkwardness just comes out of what were used too, UTEP's lack of on court success could be making it hard to seal up home-and-home with power programs like in the early stages of the Floyd era, thus leaving tournaments as the Miners marquee OOC games, and directional schools as guarantee games at homes.
What the hell is C-USA thinking?
Regional rivalries made the WAC and even C-USA 1.0 fun to watch and follow, but why in the hell is UTEP playing a home-and-home with FAU and FIU for a consecutive season????????
Rice and North Texas will be significantly better this coming season, (bank on that) but UTEP only plays those schools once and on the road.
In the era of athletic departments publicly speaking about travel costs, and logistics in the conference realignment era, C-USA decides to send UTEP, and UTSA to Florida, and the Florida schools way out west to face UTSA and UTEP.
Instead of building possible regional rivalries in a money sport, and possibly increasing attendance to some of the lowest raking home attendance venues in the league, all while saving a little travel coin in the process, C-USA does this crap, again.
Send the Florida schools up the coast to ODU, Charlotte, and Marshall, and even WKU twice a year.
WE DON'T WANT TO SEE FIU OR FAU TWICE A YEAR IN EL PASO, TEXAS OF AMERICA DAMMITT!!!
UTEP and Rice are starting to build a recruiting, and on court rivalry of sorts, and even North Texas' head coach Tony Benford's out of line comments from last season would make for good home-and-home story lines this season with his improved roster.
But instead, UTEP doubles up with two schools who frankly haven't challenged UTEP very much in hoops other than a lucky bank shot, and more than likely one or both of those games won't be televised back in El Paso...
Yeah, it gives UTEP four wins on paper (I think?) but it just doesn't make a lick of common sense for a weakening basketball conference who is searching for an identity.
WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational has a solid Mid-Major Field
Outside of Maryland-Eastern Shore, the WSBDHSBI is not that bad imo.
Akron will be a top team in the MAC, and UC-Irvine returns the best guard in the Big West.
The out of conference stretch after the Charleston Classic could be a very important time for this young UTEP squad in terms of chemistry, guys finding their niche, and wins in the win column.
Six of the next seven after the Charleston Classic are at home, and depending on how things go in Charleston this stretch could tell us a lot about what to expect during conference play.
If UTEP can reclaim the Sun Bowl Tourney title, it gives the Miners a confidence shot to snap the road losing skid at NMSU a week later, and gives some overall confidence heading into conference play.
What the hell is C-USA thinking? (Again)
The schedule set up in conference play is different, but interesting, and the reoccurring theme of flat out weird.
UTEP starts with three on the road from Sunday January 1st, until January 5th which ends in Hattiesburg.
Then UTEP will play three in a row at home, before a two game road swing at WKU, and at Marshall.
Then shit gets weird.
UTEP gets four games in a row at home, and then goes on the road for four games.
Again, what the hell is the conference thinking?
I would love to know why this is, or what led to this, it can be positive with consecutive home games, but with a young team, four straight on the road could be disastrous as well.
I think we all know that UTEP's OOC schedule isn't the strongest, or the sexiest, but it fits the returning personnel in terms of games you should win, two hard to win road games, and a good ESPN Tournament.
I will go out on a limb and say attendance will drastically decrease this season compared to the past 2-3 seasons, and Bob Stull might not like that.
Expectations months before practice even starts, and hours after the schedule is released are head scratching thoughts at the moment, but an over/under of wins would be fairly placed at 15 if we ran odds here at the Rush based on the schedule, and what UTEP returns on the roster.
It's awkward, the home portion isn't very appealing to non-die hards, and its just weird.