Two weeks from tonight, we will be watching football football football (Murray State at Louisville kicks off on ESPNU at 6:00 p.m. on September 1, if you must know; still, it’s . . .) football football Moses riding a donkey up to a drive-through football, yet still we pause to note that Mark Fox’s Georgia men’s basketball team announced its 2011-’12 schedule earlier today, and the post-Trey Thompkins/Travis Leslie era will feature some barn-burners for the Bulldogs.
Following a November 4 exhibition game, the Hoop Hounds will host Wofford on November 11, Bowling Green on November 13 (in a game set to be televised on ESPN), and South Dakota State on November 16. The CBE Classic in Kansas City will have the Red and Black squaring off with California on November 21 and with either Missouri or Notre Dame on November 22.
On the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, the Athenians will begin a grueling stretch during which they play at Xavier on November 25, at Colorado on November 28, against Cincinnati on December 2 (as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge to take place on ESPNU), and against Georgia Tech on December 7. The final few shopping days before Christmas will be taken up with a trip to Southern California on December 17 and home games against Mercer and Furman on December 20 and 23, respectively.
Georgia will close out its non-conference slate against Winthrop on December 27 and Delaware State on December 30, both at home, before hosting Alabama to open its SEC schedule on January 7. The rest of the home games include Tennessee on January 18, Ole Miss on January 21, Kentucky on January 24, Arkansas on February 8, Vanderbilt on February 19, Florida on February 25, and South Carolina on March 3, while the road outings will be against Florida on January 10, Vanderbilt on January 14, Auburn on February 1, Tennessee on February 4, Mississippi State on February 11, South Carolina on February 15, LSU on February 22, and Kentucky on March 1.
The Red and Black’s regular-season conference run includes one appearance on CSS, three appearances on ESPN or ESPN2, three appearances on Fox Sports Net, and nine appearances on the SEC Network.
I’m not thrilled with seeing the Fox Hounds open the SEC schedule against the Crimson Tide, given the way last season’s meetings went, and it’s tough to feel good about Coach Fox’s first season without Thompkins against a slate that features play-in participant USC; tournament teams Cincinnati, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Wofford, Xavier, and either Missouri or Notre Dame; Elite Eight competitor Florida; and Final Four contestant Kentucky. It certainly cannot be claimed that Coach Fox is dodging tough competition, as the Bulldogs’ 30 slated games will include up to 17 showdowns against opponents who made it into postseason play last year.
Georgia’s only break in the SEC schedule comes in late January. Following a 9:00 p.m. ESPN game against Kentucky in Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday, January 24, the Fox Hounds will have eight days to prepare for their trip to the Plains on Wednesday, February 1, for the opening outing of a five-game stretch in which the Red and Black play four road games. In fact, only four of the Athenians’ last ten games are at home, so the Bulldogs had better be prepared to take advantage of a midseason schedule that affords them ten opportunities to take the court before the home crowd in a 13-game span between December 2 and January 24.
What leaps out at you from this year’s basketball schedule?