2012-13 Basketball Preview: The Schedule

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After spending so much time on the NCAA Tournament bubble, scheduling is obviously a big issue with Virginia Tech basketball fans. Today we’ll take a closer look at Tech’s 2012-13 schedule, which, on the whole, is very favorable.

I think everyone can agree that the NCAA Tournament is not a realistic goal for this season. The focus this year is on James Johnson establishing his system, getting his players to embrace it, and continuing to recruit players who can add quality depth for next season and years beyond.

That said, the goal is always to try and win as many games as possible. The Hokies play 13 non-conference games and 18 ACC games. With two extra conference games this year, the schedule is automatically a bit more difficult.

We’re going to break Tech’s schedule down into a few different parts.

The First Five

In the first two weeks of the season, the Hokies play five games. They host ETSU, Rhode Island, VMI and Appalachian State, and they also play UNC-Greensboro in the Greensboro Coliseum. All five of these games are very winnable, and if the Hokies can start 5-0, that could build some confidence.

ETSU: 17-14 last year. Picked 4th in the Atlantic Sun by the media.
Rhode Island: 7-24 last year. Picked 15th in the A-10.
VMI: 17-16 last year. Picked 2nd in the Big South’s North Division.
UNC-G: 13-19 last year. Picked to win the Southern Conference’s North Division.
Appalachian State: 13-18. Picked 4th in the Southern Conference’s North Division.

Obviously Virginia Tech has more talent than all of those teams. ETSU is a well-coached team, with Murry Bartow leading the charge. He has led the Bucs to three NCAA Tournaments, and he also reached the Big Dance with the UAB Blazers. He has a career record of 265-180. ETSU has won 20+ games in five of Bartow’s nine seasons.

Rhode Island could be an interesting game. The Rams were awful a season ago, but they have a new staff in place: Dan Hurley is their head coach, and Bobby Hurley is their top assistant. They are an unknown at this point.

A 5-0 start against that schedule is desirable.

A Step Up

Following those first five games, Virginia Tech will take a step up in competition. They play three straight games against programs from power conferences, and two of them will be in Cassell Coliseum. They’ll take