A surprise home-and-home series with Avery Johnson's Alabama headlines Penn State basketball's announcement of their 2018-19 non-conference schedule, released earlier today. The Crimson Tide will join Virginia Tech (Big Ten-ACC Challenge), NC State (Boardwalk Classic in Atlantic City), and DePaul (Gavitt Games) as the major-conference opponents on PSU's slate. The Nittany Lions will also compete in the Cancun Challenge, where they'll face Wright State on Nov 20 and either SMU or Bradley the following day.
The defending NIT champions will open their season with the North Florida Ospreys on Friday, Nov 9, one of two non-bracket games of the Cancun Challenge. Jacksonville St. and DePaul will be their only prep prior to the trip to Mexico. The UMBC Retrievers, who made history in becoming the first 16-seed to defeat a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, will close out Penn State's non-con at the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec 29.
The two early Big Ten games are here to stay as well - the Lions' opponents have yet to be announced, but it looks like the two conference games will be played sometime between Nov 30 to Dec 5.
Last season's non-conference schedule drew plenty of criticism for its lack of quality opponents. The numbers back that up - Penn State's non-conference strength of schedule was sub-150 nationally and held down their traditional metrics when it came to NCAA Tournament selection. It's too early to tell just how good any team will be in July, but both Alabama and Virginia Tech rank in the top-25 in Bart Torvik's early 2019 projections.
Additionally, Penn State's only in-state foray away from the confines of the BJC will be a trip to Pittsburgh to face Duquesne on Dec 19. No Philly trips or even games against Philly teams this season.
|11/09/18||North Florida||Bryce Jordan Center||14-19||282||222|
|11/12/18||Jacksonville State||Bryce Jordan Center||23-13||142||135|
|11/20/18||Wright State||Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya||25-10||133||98|
|11/21/18||SMU / Bradley||Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya||-||-||-|
|11/27/18||Virginia Tech||Bryce Jordan Center||21-12||33||69|
|12/08/18||Colgate||Bryce Jordan Center||19-14||202||193|
|12/15/18||N.C. State||Boardwalk Hall||21-12||46||72|
|12/19/18||Duquesne||PPG Paints Arena||16-16||201||259|
|12/29/18||UMBC||Bryce Jordan Center||25-11||166||104|