Liberty basketball has some games scheduled for its non-conference slate for this coming season. Some of the more notable matchups include Missouri at Liberty Arena, at LSU, and in the Diamond Head Classic (featuring BYU, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northern Iowa, and others). Who are some non-conference opponents Liberty could add to the schedule, perhaps not this season but in future years? We take a look at 10 options that the Flames have not played under head coach Ritchie McKay.
There’s a chance Liberty and BYU could play in Hawaii at Christmas as part of the Diamond Head Classic, though the official matchups have not been announced yet. BYU and Notre Dame are two athletic programs and academic institutions the Flames have always compared themselves to. Liberty has played Notre Dame on the hardwood recently, but has played BYU only time, during the 2006-07 season.
This matchup is not likely to happen as long as McKay and Tony Bennett are guiding their respective systems, but it would be fun to see if the McKay could defeat his former boss and in-state program who won a national championship just a couple years ago.
It’s hard to believe Liberty and Charlotte have never played on the basketball floor before. They are led by former Virginia assistant under Bennett and alongside McKay in Ron Sanchez and run the packline defensive system. The 49ers have been a strong program in the Conference USA for several years.
4. James Madison
Liberty and JMU are located just a couple hours away, but the Flames and Dukes haven’t met on the hardwood since the 2008-09 season. JMU has struggled to field a successful team, but they had a very good campaign last year finishing tied for first atop the CAA.
5. Old Dominion
ODU is one of the more established basketball programs in Virginia. Liberty and the Monarchs have not played since the 2009-10 season.
The Flames strive to be one of the best mid-major programs in the country. Why not face the challenge of national power Gonzaga who has risen into a blue blood from a mid-major conference?
Loyola is another mid-major program which has established themselves as one of the strongest programs in the country. It would be a good challenge for the Flames.
8. Appalachian State
For a couple decades, Liberty has trailed Appalachian State as an overall athletic program, particularly from a football standpoint where the Mountaineers were a powerhouse in the FCS before moving to the FBS and establishing themselves in the Sun Belt.
The Flames and Minutemen are becoming frequent acquaintances on the football field as fellow FBS Independents. Why not try to establish some crossover rivalry among the other programs, beginning with basketball?
Former Lipscomb head coach Casey Alexander now roams the sidelines in Nashville at Belmont who has long been a strong mid-major program. The Flames and Bruins have not met since the 1997-98 season.