A quick look at next season's non-conference slate (so far...)

[caption id="attachment_11162" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href="http://www.vcuramnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/8294999086_ba405aa490_b.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-11162" alt="VCU looks to extend their 3-game winning streak against a rebuilding ODU Monarchs squad." src="http://www.vcuramnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/8294999086_ba405aa490_b-300x216.jpg" width="300" height="216" /></a> VCU looks to extend their 3-game winning streak against a rebuilding ODU Monarchs squad.[/caption]

Next year's non-conference schedule has yet to be completed, but let's take a quick look at the match-ups we know we can look forward to.

Home Games

East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun) 10-22, 275 RPI -This one could get ugly. The Rams blasted the Buccaneers by 51 points last season on the road, so the spread should be an interesting one in ETSU's return game at the Siegel Center. Good news for the Bucs is Troy Daniels won't be around to drop another 11 3-pointers on them next season.

Illinois State (MVC) 18-15, 118 RPI - The Redbirds had a solid team last season led by versatile big, Jackie Carmichael (17.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg). Unfortunately for Illinois State, he and leading scorer, Tyler Brown (18.1 ppg), graduate. VCU should be a massive test for them early in the season.

Old Dominion (CUSA) 5-25, 318 RPI - VCU's once proud rival fell off the cliff last season, resulting in an ugly 5-25 record including the firing of longtime coach, Blaine Taylor, before the season ended. The Rams beat ODU 83-70 in Norfolk last season, and that was with NC State transfer, DeShawn Painter, dropping 26 points. Painter's 13 ppg and 8.4 rpg graduate, which may be very bad news for the boys in blue in their first trip to the Siegel Center in two years.

Stony Brook (America East) 25-8, 80 RPI - Luckily VCU sells out every game, because this is one of those sleeper matchups casual fans tend overlook on a schedule. The Seawolves return a ton of talent from a very good team, including leading scorer, freshman Jameel Warney, who at 6'8 255 won't be intimidated by the Rams.

Winthrop (Big South) 14-17, 267 RPI - Winthrop was a program on the rise a few years ago under then head coach, Greg Marshall. Marshall moved on, most recently leading Wichita State to the 2013 Final 4, while Winthrop has yet to recover. The Rams blew out the Eagles, 90-54, in South Carolina last season and will hope to do the same in Richmond.

Road Games

Belmont (OVC) 26-7, 19 RPI - The Rams escaped Belmont despite an injured Darius Theus, 75-65 in Richmond last season. Briante Weber will look to build a win streak as the primary point guard against a Belmont team who graduates their top three scorers from an NCAA tournament team.

Northern Iowa (MVC) 21-15, 83 RPI - VCU will take on UNI in a BracketBusters return game from their Feb of 2012 meeting (a 77-68 VCU win). The Panthers had good wins over Creighton, St. Mary's and Final 4 participant, Wichita State, last season, as well as close neutral court loses to Memphis and eventual national champ, Louisville. The Panthers graduate three of their top four scorers, including leading scorer, Anthony James (13.2 ppg).

Virginia (ACC) 23-12, 76 RPI - The first game of a long-overdue home-and-home series, VCU heads to Charlottesville for the first time since 1996. The Wahoos were deadly at the JPJ last season, going 20-2 in front of their home crowd including big wins over the likes of UNC, NC State and Duke. UVA returns all their key pieces from a team that just missed last season's NCAA tournament (due to going 0-3 against CAA teams, including a head-scratching neutral court loss against Old Dominion). This should be one of the Rams' toughest road tests next season.

Neutral Court Games

Boston College (ACC) 16-17, 113 RPI - VCU heads back to Brooklyn to take on BC in the Barclay's Center VCU played last season's A-10 tournament in. The Eagles' last neutral court A-10 game came in the form of a 16-point loss to Dayton last season (Flyers finished 12th in the A-10). Das boot anyone?

Virginia Tech (ACC) 13-19, 176 RPI - Tech coaches have dodged VCU for years, hoping to hold on to the false perception that somehow VT was better than VCU due to conference affiliation alone. Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell did VT no favors then when he announced the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic at the Richmond Coliseum, matching VCU and VT up in the event's second season. VT started 7-0 last season, but have been in free fall since. The Hokies have won six games since, and have seen a number of players either transfer or opt out of their commitments to join the program. Losing the nation's leading scorer, Eric Green (25 ppg), won't make the rebuilding process any easier.

Puerto Rico Tip-Off: Three of Auburn (SEC), Charlotte (CUSA), Florida State (ACC), Georgetown (Big East), Kansas State (Big 12), Long Beach State (Big West), Michigan (Big 10) - The Rams have seen a lot of that group as of late, defeating Georgetown and Florida State on their way to the Final 4 in 2011, Charlotte this season in A-10 play, then losing to Michigan in Michigan in this year's NCAA tournament.
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Licensed Virginia Realtor and part-time basketball writer. Co-founder of VCURamNation.com and A10Talk.com.
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Mat Shelton-Eide
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