<
>
Get ESPN+

Why they do it: Toughest nonconference hoops schedules

Texas Southern faced off against ranked teams such as Gonzaga and Arizona State in nonconference play. Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire

Some teams do it for the money. Other programs are trying to prepare their players for conference play. And not every coach realized just how difficult the schedule would be when booking these games months ago.

Meet the toughest nonconference schedules in Division I.

We reached out to every program at the top of the non-power-conference list to find out what the coaches' thinking was when they chose to play these opponents. Not every team responded, but the ones that did paint a vivid picture of life on the road in college basketball.

Want to play the one of the toughest schedules in the country? Here's how that happens, and what it's like.