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Analyzing the Cowboy Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

OSU fans should be excited for basketball season

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Oklahoma State released their full non-conference basketball schedule for the 2017-18 season. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, because as much as I love football, I fell in love with OSU because of basketball.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here you go:

11/10 | Pepperdine
11/13 | Charlotte
11/16 | Oral Roberts
11/20 | The Legends Classic: Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Penn State
11/21 | The Legends Classic: Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Penn State
11/26 | Houston Baptist
11/29 | Austin Peay
12/03 | Mississippi Valley State
12/09 | Wichita State
12/16 | Orange Bowl Classic: Florida State
12/19 | Tulsa
12/22 | UT-Rio Grande Valley
01/28 | Big12/SEC Challenge: @Arkansas

At first glance, it’s another non-conference schedule without a lot to get excited about. A few of Power-5 program teams at neutral locations and a lot teams from one-bid conferences who finished the previous season with losing records.

However, I actually think this is a great non-conference schedule for next season, with multiple reasons for Oklahoma State fans to be excited.


BUILT FOR SUCCESS

Oklahoma State will be a very new team next season. They’ll be breaking in a new coaching staff including a first-time head coach. They’ll also have three new starters with Jawun Evans, Phil Forte III, and Leyton Hammonds all gone.

They’re going to need time on the court to grow and develop as a team. This schedule is built perfectly for that.

The first thing I notice is the schedule is back-loaded. Yes the trip to Brooklyn is in the second week of the season. early but don’t let the names in the tournament fool you. Penn State is not good and probably won’t be much improved next year. Texas A&M went 16-15 last season but is expected to be better. Pitt is going into the second season under head coach Kevin Stallings, and lost one of their best players, forward Cameron Johnson, to transfer. Texas A&M will probably be the best of those three, but OSU may not even face them (knock on wood).

After Brooklyn is a week off followed by three home games against teams who combined to go 35-58 last season.

It’s eight games before Oklahoma State faces the most difficult part of the schedule, Wichita State and Florida State, one of which you get at home. Plus, you get a full week off between the two games.

That’s six home games and two neutral site games against average competition, for this team and staff to figure out who they are before their first real challenges of the season.

This schedule was built for this team and coaching staff to have time to grow and develop together.


HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Last season, Oklahoma State’s 13 game non-conference schedule included eight home games. This season it’s nine and they come in the first 12 of the season.

This kind of goes along with the first point; this schedule was built for a team that has to figure itself out. It’s easier to play at home, especially for the role players and bench guys.

It’s also easier to play in front of the home crowd. Hopefully some of the momentum built last year will continue into this season. Winning will help with that.

Scheduling nine home games early will give fans plenty of opportunities to show up and help cheer on the Cowboys. If fans do fill up Gallagher-Iba, even against the Austin Peays and the Houston Baptists, they will give this team an even better chance of winning.


FAMILIARITY

Oklahoma State will face three teams for a second straight year; Wichita State, Tulsa, and Arkansas.

First you get Wichita State, a team OSU smoked last season on the road. Obviously they won’t be the exact same teams that faced off last season, but you have to feel confident that fans will show up for this one, which should give OSU an advantage.

Then comes Tulsa as the second to last game before conference play starts. Last season’s win over Tulsa was close, but the Cowboys were playing without Jawun Evans who missed the game with injury, in Tulsa. This time it’s at home. Add in the fact that OSU has won nine of the last 10 games against the Golden Hurricanes and you have to feel good.

Finally, Oklahoma State and Arkansas will face off for a second straight season in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Last season OSU thumped the Razorbacks in Stillwater, but this year the two teams will meet in Fayettville. Arkansas isn’t a bad team and has some talent returning so it won’t be an easy match-up.


WICHITA STATE

This season, Oklahoma State fans will get the best non-conference home game since Maryland in 2014 (sorry Arkansas). There was a good run of years where OSU played at least one quality non-conference opponent at home. Virginia Tech, Gonzaga, Maryland, Memphis. This one easily falls in that category.

Don’t let last season’s game fool you, Wichita State is a good team with a great head coach. It’s a marquee game and would be a marquee win for a new coaching staff. I expect Gallagher-Iba to be a packed house for this one.


So what do you like about this schedule? Or do you hate it? Let me here your thoughts in the comments section below.