Virginia Basketball: How Difficult is UVA's Non-Conference Schedule in 2024-25?

Virginia will host Memphis in the return game of a home-and-home series as part of UVA's 2024-2025 non-conference schedule.
Virginia will host Memphis in the return game of a home-and-home series as part of UVA's 2024-2025 non-conference schedule. / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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The start of the college basketball season is still a few months away and the NCAA Tournament is much further, but it's never too early to start thinking about March Madness and your team's chances of making it. Last season, Virginia just barely made the cut as one of the last four teams in and was sent to Dayton for the First Four.

UVA's offensive woes, lopsided losses, and an untimely collapse in the ACC Tournament semifinals fueled the narrative that the Cavaliers did not belong in the tournament, but Virginia's metrics were also a mixed bag despite having a 23-10 overall record and finishing third in the ACC.

Strength of schedule (SOS) is a key factor considered by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and simply put, Virginia's SOS lagged behind many of the Bubble teams. UVA ranked 70th in overall strength of schedule, a marker of the perhaps overblown narrative of the ACC having a "down year" once again, but the Cavaliers also ranked 84th in the country in non-conference strength of schedule. Wins over Florida and Texas A&M, who both made the NCAA Tournament, did some heavy lifting for UVA's resume, but the Hoos had maybe too many wins over insignificant mid and low majors: North Carolina A&T, Texas Southern, North Carolina Central, Tarleton State, Northeastern, and Morgan State. Other notable non-conference games at Memphis and against Wisconsin on a neutral floor did not pay off for the Cavaliers, who suffered a pair of blowouts in those two matchups.

In the end, Virginia was somewhat fortunate to make the Big Dance, which stamped the 2023-2024 season as at least a partial success despite getting bounced in the play-in game. The lesson from all of this is that part of the battle in whether a team makes or misses the NCAA Tournament is fought well before the season begins, when the schedule is built. With that in mind, let's take a look at what we know so far about Virginia's non-conference schedule for the 2024-2025 season and start to project how difficult that portion of the schedule is going to be for the Cavaliers.

UPDATE: this article has been updated to reflect the additions of Manhattan, Holy Cross, and Bethune-Cookman to UVA's non-conference schedule.

Virginia's Current 2024-2025 Non-Conference Schedule
November 6th: vs. Campbell (Charlottesville, VA)
November 11th: vs. Coppin State (Charlottesville, VA)
November 15th: vs. Villanova (Baltimore, MD)
November 21st: vs. Baylor/St. John's/Tennessee (Nassau, Bahamas)
November 22nd: vs. Baylor/St. John's/Tennessee (Nassau, Bahamas)
November 26th: vs. Manhattan (Charlottesville, VA)
November 29th: vs. Holy Cross (Charlottesville, VA)
December 4th: at Florida (Gainesville, FL)
December 12th: Bethune-Cookman (Charlottesville, VA)
December 18th: vs. Memphis (Charlottesville, VA)
December 22nd: vs. American (Charlottesville, VA)

10 of Virginia's non-conference matchups have been reported, though two of them could be against any of three opponents, as UVA will participate in the Baha Mar Bahamas Hoops Championship along with Baylor, St. John's, and Tennessee. That will give the Cavaliers at least two major conference opponents and they will also face Villanova in Baltimore, play at Florida in the second-annual ACC/SEC Challenge, and host Memphis in the return game of a home-and-home series. The other reported non-conference games will likely go down as Quad 4 games, home contests against Campbell (304th in the final NET rankings in 2023-2024), Coppin State (361st), American (287th), Manhattan (335th), Holy Cross (350th), and Bethune-Cookman (308th).

READ MORE: How Much Will Virginia's Ryan Dunn Make on his NBA Rookie Contract?

Virginia and Florida will meet for the second season in a row, as the Cavaliers won a thrilling early-season matchup over the Gators 73-70 in Charlotte last November. Florida went on to earn a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but Todd Golden's squad lost several key contributors in Tyrese Samuel, Zyon Pullin, and Riley Kugel. The Gators bring back leading scorer Walter Clayton and Will Richard, who both withdrew from the NBA Draft, and return other foundational pieces in Alex Condon and 7'1" center Micah Handlogten, while adding a couple of impact transfers in Chattanooga's Sam Alexis (10.8 ppg) and FAU's Alijah Martin (13.1 ppg). With that roster, Florida should be headed back to the NCAA Tournament after finishing 29th in the NET rankings last year.

Depending on how the tournament plays out in the Bahamas, Tennessee could present one of the most formidable challenges Virginia faces in the non-conference next season. The Volunteers lost first round pick Dalton Knecht as well as starters Josiah-Jordan James and Santiago Vescovi, but they bring back Zakai Zeigler and Jordan Gainey and add a host of transfers, including Hofstra's Darlinstone Dubar (17.8 ppg), Chaz Lanier (19.7 ppg), and former Cavalier and Charlotte transfer Igor Milicic Jr. (12.8 ppg). Tennessee was 7th in the NET and the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight in 2023-2024.

Another possible matchup for Virginia in the Bahamas is Baylor, who lost four double-digit scorers in Ja'Kobe Walter, RayJ Dennis, Jalen Bridges, and Yves Missi, but return double-digit scorers Langston Love and Jayden Nunn and add Miami transfer Norchad Omier (17.0 ppg), Duke transfer Jeremy Roach (14.0 ppg), Cal transfer Jalen Celestine (8.7 ppg), and three top 50-ranked freshmen. It's a new look roster for Scott Drew and the Bears, who were 15th in the final NET rankings and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but he should be able to guide his team back to the Big Dance for the fifth year in a row.

Should Virginia and St. John's cross paths in the Bahamas, Rick Pitino will be looking to improve his abysmal 1-5 record against Tony Bennett from his last years at Louisville. In their first season under Pitino, the Johnnies went 20-13 and 11-9 in the Big East, finished 32nd in the NET rankings, and declined a bid to the NIT. After losing three double-digit scorers in Daniss Jenkins, Joel Soriano, and Jordan Single, there are some serious questions about how St. John's will look next season, though Pitino did secure Seton Hall transfer Kadary Richmond (15.7 ppg), Utah transfer Deivon Smith (13.3 ppg), North Texas transfer Aaron Scott (11.0 ppg), and USC transfer Vincent Iwuchukwu (5.5 ppg). The most likely outcome is a St. John's squad competing right on the fringe of NCAA Tournament contention again in 2024-2025.

READ MORE: How to Watch Virginia's Ryan Dunn & Reece Beekman in the NBA Summer League

Another Big East team that missed the NCAA Tournament, Villanova enters its third season under Justin Neptune having qualified for the NIT in each of the first two years and only improving its record by one game from year 1 to year 2. The Wildcats, who finished 41st in the NET rankings, lost four of their five starters in TJ Bamba, Justin Moore, Mark Armstrong, and Tyler Burton, but return leading scorer Eric Dixon (16.6 ppg) and bring in four quality transfers in Miami's Wooga Poplar (13.1 ppg), La Salle's Jhamir Brickus (13.9 ppg), Penn's Tyler Perkins (13.7 ppg), and Fresno State's Enoch Boakye (7.5 ppg). Virginia will face Villanova in the Hall of Fame Series on Friday, November 15th at CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore.

On December 18th, Virginia will look to avenge an ugly 77-54 loss to Memphis from a season ago when the Tigers visit John Paul Jones Arena. At the time these two teams played, Memphis looked to be well on the way to an NCAA Tournament appearance, but some surprising stumbles in AAC conference play led to Penny Hardaway's team missing the tournament entirely. Hardaway completely overhauled his roster this offseason with Jahvon Quinerly, Nae'Qwan Tomlin, Jaykwon Walton, Malcolm Dandridge, Caleb Mills, and others all departing from the program, while Tulsa's PJ Haggerty (21.2 ppg), Wichita State's Colby Rogers (16.4 ppg), Texas' Tyrese Hunter (11.1 ppg), SMU's Tyreek Smith (8.2 ppg), George Mason's Baraka Okojie (8.1 ppg), Illinois' Dain Dainja (6.1 ppg), and Ole Miss' Moussa Cisse (4.5 ppg) are transferring in. There aren't many teams more difficult to make a prediction for than the Memphis Tigers next season.

In summary, as it is currently constructed, Virginia's non-conference schedule includes three likely NCAA Tournament teams in Florida, Baylor, and Tennessee, and three fringe NCAA Tournament contenders in St. John's, Villanova, and Memphis. That's pretty much on par with UVA's schedule from a season ago, but it does put some significant pressure on the Cavaliers to win those games against future March Madness participants.

UPDATE: the 2024-2025 Virginia men's basketball non-conference schedule has been announced. Click here to see the official 11-game slate: Virginia Men's Basketball Announces 2024-2025 Non-Conference Schedule


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Matt Newton

MATT NEWTON

Managing Editor and Publisher, CavaliersNow Email: mattnewton@virginia.eduTwitter: @mattynewtssWebsite | LinkedIn | Instagram Matt Newton is the managing editor and publisher at CavaliersNow. He has been covering UVA athletics since 2019 and has been the managing editor at CavaliersNow since launching the site in August 2021. Matt covers all things UVA sports, including Virginia basketball and football news and recruiting, former Wahoos in the pros, and coverage of all 23 of the NCAA Division I sports teams at the University of Virginia. A native of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, Matt grew up a huge Philadelphia sports fan, but has also been a UVA sports fanatic his entire life thanks to his parents, who are alums of the University of Virginia. Matt followed in his parents' footsteps and attended UVA from 2017-2021, graduating with a degree in Media Studies and a minor in Economics in May of 2021.