Is anybody else severely disappointed with the schedule?
After last year's non-conference schedule and the team's overall success, I imagined that Gonzaga would play a Duke or a Kansas, more B1G teams, or a slew of opponents that can give the Zags a few punches or even beat them. I mean, one of the biggest reasons the Zags even got a 1 seed in the tournament was because of their non-conference schedule. If someone asked whom the Zags played (in the usual insolent fashion), we could tell them that they beat more Top-100 RPI teams than any other team or that they had a very difficult non-conference. What I got was this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013%E2%80%9314_Gonzaga_Bulldogs_men's_basketball_team
I recognize that there are a couple good tests, such as @ Memphis or the opportunity to play Syracuse, but myriad games look like serious blow outs. Coppin State, South Alabama, West Virginia, New Mexico State, Bryant, Simon Fraser, WSU @ Gonzaga, Oakland, Dayton, KSU... Besides the Memphis game, the Zags have two road games against opponents they crushed recently and should crush again (KSU just graduated one of their two best players and had the other one transfer out, so it won't even be the KSU of last season). The entire non-conference schedule besides @ Memphis, @ KSU and @ WVU looks to be filled with home games or neutral site games, with the only juicy ones looking to be Colorado State and the potential to play Baylor and Syracuse or Minnesota.
Other than Colorado State, @ Memphis, and the potential to play Baylor and Syracuse or Minnesota, the non-conference looks like a failure. The strength of that non-conference schedule is a significant step back. The team needs to grind it out against real powerhouse teams in the non-conference. Especially because...
The Zag's conference schedule is even more lackluster this year than in recent years. St. Mary's has taken a step back this year with the departure of Dellavedova and the sanctions the NCAA hit them with. Pacific enters the WCC, but just lost 7 players (!) and is having no luck with recruiting. BYU has a strong recruiting class coming in, but they also lost a few key players. The only real test for the Zag's conference schedule is going to be @ BYU.
So in this entire season of 30+ games, there are potentially 3 or 4 good match ups from my perspective. I don't see this as a step forward for the program. Gonzaga needs to desperately try to join the Pac-12 (we travel to all the same areas that Pac-12 schools are currently at anyways) and schedule very tough opponents in the non-conference to take the next step forward. Since Gonzaga doesn't have a football team like the Pac-12 does, it leaves us with problems ><