OSU has NOT traditionally piled up many "quality" wins in the non-conference portion of their schedule, tallying 1 or 2 legit D1 opponents prior to Big 12 play.
The last couple of seasons Travis Ford has worked on changing that. Last season Marcus Smart and the rest of the gang announced their presence with a beat down of ACC favorite NC State in Puerto Rico.
This season looks to be of similar fashion. After 5 cream puff contests in GIA (2 exhibitions), Memphis comes to town on November 19th for a "warm up" to the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving weekend.
This starts a stretch of Division opponents that should give us a pretty good picture of what this year's version of the Cowboys will be.
11/25 South Florida
11/28 Purdue (Game 1 of the OSC in Kissimmee, FL)
11/29 OSU will get either Butler or Washington State
12/1 OSU will get one of the following...LSU/Memphis/St Joes/Siena
12/6 South Carolina
12/14 La Tech in the All College Classic
12/17 Delaware State in the All College Classic
12/21 Colorado in the MGM Grand Showcase in Las Vegas
12/30 Robert Morris (remember the NIT earlier this year and Kentucky?)
This should be plenty of test for Smart, Brown, Nash and Company.
The beginning of Big 12 activity is critical, as OSU visits Kansas State on 1/4/14. After that, everything will point to January 18 in Lawrence and January 27 in Norman. The Cowboys will enjoy 6 of their last 10 at home, but I have to say I'm not liking that last game on March 8 in Ames.
It will be interesting to see how this team performs vs what we saw last season. After losing 3 of 5 games to start conference play (4 of 6 if you include Gonzaga), the Cowboys reeled off 10 wins in their next 11 games, with their only loss being an OT defeat at the hands of Kansas in GIA. They then stumbled a bit down the stretch, losing 3 of their last 5, including a horrible first round loss in the NCAA tourney to an underrated and under-seeded Oregon squad.
A big question for me will be Le'Bryan Nash and his consistency. OSU has a couple of bigger guys in Leyton Hammonds and Jeffrey Carroll that could offer assistance at the "wing/poward forward" position if Nash has one of those "nights." These two, along with Gaskins and Clark, look to be the impact newcomers. Mark Travis will be posting a more in depth player-by-player look as we get closer to the season.
As far as how OSU attacks the floor, it will very interesting to see how the "new" rules effect the Cowboys on defense, especially Marcus Smart, who is a very physical defender. Will we see more of the 3/4 pressure that seemed to work so well at times for OSU? Offensively, will we see more disciplined half court sets, or will the Cowboys rely heavily on breaking down opponents with their athleticism?
There will be plenty to hear and read as Big 12 Basketball Media Day gets underway Tuesday.
In the meantime, let's enjoy the excitement the hoops will bring, and settle in for our last season of Marcus Smart in Gallagher-Iba.
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