The offseason look at the schedules of the Division I basketball teams of Delmarva/D.C. (28 in all, total) continues with Liberty from the Big South.
They’ll miss: Forward Alex McLean, who averaged 15.8 points and a team-high 8.8 rebounds last season for the Flames.
They’re adding: Just the younger brother of the face of last year’s NCAA tournament. Seth Curry, wearing the familiar No. 30 of father Dell and older brother Stephen, is one of seven freshmen to arrive in Lynchburg this fall.
Home/road/neutral schedule split: 14/14/2
Best team visiting Lynchburg: Defending CAA tournament champ George Mason makes its way to the Vines Center for a return game of the Flames’ eight-point loss in Fairfax last season. The Patriots lose two program anchors in Folarin Campbell and Will Thomas, but still have a decent shot to remain near the top of the CAA.
Best home game subplot: It wasn’t North Carolina nor Virginia Tech nor Tennessee who dealt UNC Asheville its largest margin of defeat. It was the Flames, who administered an 83-54 drubbing to the Big South regular season champs. They’ll meet at Liberty on Jan. 31.
Funny seeing you here: There’s no huge surprises on the home schedule, which includes eight conference games and four non-Division I opponents. That leaves the visit from Mason as well as a possible meeting with William & Mary in the final of a Thanksgiving weekend tournament.
Best road venue: It’s tough to argue with the Nov. 25 trip up to John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, even if Virginia is unlikely to be much of a contender for an NCAA tournament berth.
Best showcase: Dec. 7 at Clemson. The Flames fell into a home-and-home with the Tigers after understandably overbooked Davidson begged out of a meeting. The Tigers are the Liberty’s only nonconference road opponent who made the NCAA tournament last year.
Best opponent: Clemson. The Tigers aren’t on the same tier as North Carolina this season (few are) and might not be quite as good as Duke and Miami. But they’re in the ACC’s next pack, and this could prove to be an unpleasant game for the youthful Flames.
New to the schedule: New Big South member Gardner-Webb, as well as Montreat, Virginia, William & Mary/South Carolina State, Clemson, Anderson, DePaul, Saint Louis, Southern, Northern Colorado/USC Upstate, Cincinnati Christian
Pivotal stretch: The Flames, who are coming off a 16-16 season, play five of six on the road to start 2009. The swing includes trips to Big South power Winthrop, steady High Point and run-and-gun VMI. With two other league games before Christmas, Liberty would probably be in good shape if it can be 4-4 in the conference after a Jan. 20 visit to High Point.
—- Patrick Stevens