The official Norfolk State athletic website released the men's basketball schedule on Tuesday. Assuming the schedule is correct, Norfolk State will travel to Tuscaloosa for a game on January 2nd. This will presumably be Alabama's final non-conference game before SEC play begins.
Norfolk State is a member of the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic) conference. They've also been a solid program. In the last four years, the program has averaged 21.5 wins, and have participated in the postseason each of those seasons (1 NCAA, 1 NIT, and 2 CIT appearances).
I like this game on the schedule. It's a game that Alabama should win on paper, but Norfolk is good enough that you can't overlook them either. Norfolk's success in recent years also suggests this won't be a total drag on the RPI. So far I'm really loving the schedule for next season.
Okay, so here is what we know about the schedule up to this point:
1. The Advocare Invitational (formerly the Orlando Classic) will take place Thanksgiving weekend. Alabama will play Xavier in the first round, with a match-up with USC/Wichita State the following day. Notre Dame, Monmouth, Iowa and Dayton are also possible opponents.
2. Alabama will play Oregon on December 21st in the first game of a home-and-home series. The game was previously thought to be part of a true home-and-home series, but the Oregon athletic website shows the game being played in Birmingham. Where the game will be played next season in Oregon is unknown.
3. Jon Rothstein tweeted that Alabama and Clemson will begin a home-and-home series this season, with the first game in South Carolina. Clemson's arena, Littlejohn Coliseum, is currently undergoing renovations so the site of this game is unknown.
4. It is assumed that Alabama will make the return trip to Hattiesburg to play Southern Miss as part of a home-and-home agreement that began last season.
Including the Norfolk State game, that's now seven games we know about. Non-conference schedules are typically 11-13 games so we should be very close to seeing a completed 15-16 non-conference schedule soon.
Update: Dayton released their 15-16 non-conference schedule this afternoon. I didn't think about it when I saw the release because Dayton and Bama will be in the Orlando event. It turns out Alabama will travel to play Dayton on November 17th. It's yet another tough non-conference game scheduled by Avery Johnson. We're going to find out real quick how good this Alabama team is. Lawdy.