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Oklahoma State basketball: Mike Boynton building challenging non-conference schedule for 2019

Boynton is NOT going to take it easy next season.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After Oklahoma State missed out on the Big Dance in 2018 due to a weak non-conference schedule, head coach Mike Boynton made it his goal to put together more challenging non-conference slates for his Cowboy teams moving forward.

That was certainly the case this past season, with OSU’s non-conference schedule ranked between 34th and 23rd depending on the metric. With the announcement the Pokes are headed northeast to take part in the NIT Season Tip-Off in 2019, it looks like that isn’t going to change next season.

Here’s what we know for sure of OSU’s 2019-20 non-conference schedule so far:

  • OSU will head to coach Boynton’s stomping grounds for the NIT Season Tip-Off during Thanksgiving week in Brooklyn. OSU will be joined by Syracuse, Ole Miss and Penn State. The tournament also provides a campus game for each team. This past season Kansas played Vermont, Marquette played Bethune-Cookman, and Louisville played host to Southern and Vermont. Tennessee abstained from a game. So it seems like OSU will get a third game out of this tournament, this time on their home court.
  • OSU will play a third “neutral” site game against Minnesota. I say “neutral” because the game is Dec. 21 at the BOK Center in Tulsa. OSU lost the meeting this past season to the Gophers, 83-76.
  • This will also be the first year of the Big 12/Big East challenge pitting each of the conference’s 10 teams against one another. It looks like OSU will get this game at home, though the opponent and date are yet to be determined. Teams that finished around the bottom of the Big 10 this past season include Butler, Providence, St. John’s and DePaul.
  • OSU will welcome Wichita State to Stillwater on Dec. 8 to start a four-game series with the Shockers.
  • The Cowboys will wrap-up a home-and-home series with Houston with a trip to south Texas on Dec. 14. The Cowboys lost to the Cougars 63-53 this past season in Stillwater.
  • Similar to 2018’s season-opening road trip to Charlotte, OSU will take a trip to Charleston this season, and I expect it comes early. The Cowboys beat Charleston in Stillwater last season 70-58.
  • Boynton’s squad will also head on the road in January for the annual Big 12 / SEC Challenge. Opponent and Date are TBD.

I would also be shocked if OSU and Tulsa didn’t face off again. Boynton has mentioned in the past that he believes the two programs should play every year. The two teams met in Tulsa this past season, so it’s likely, if the two in-state teams do face off next season, it will happen in Stillwater.

I appreciate Boynton’s commitment to challenging schedules. He has shown with last season’s schedule, and what we know about next season, that he likes taking his team out of the comfortable confines of Gallagher-Iba Arena and into opposing gymnasiums and neutral sites.

Plus, while the likes of Duke and Kentucky might not be on the schedule, it’s certainly not a line-up of cupcakes. Four teams — Ole Miss, Syracuse, Houston, and Minnesota — are participating in the NCAA tournament this year. Wichita State is in the NIT field and looks to be turning things around after an unusually down season. While we don’t know which Big East and SEC teams OSU will face, it’s doubtful they’ll be push-overs (fingers crossed for Butler and Georgia).

In theory, this is all great for preparing a team to face the arduous marathon that is the Big 12, not to mention a potential NCAA berth. That said, when you go 7-6 in your 13-game line-up, that difficult schedule becomes a hindrance rather than an aid.

For a team coming off a 12-20 season, even with a top-20 recruiting class coming in, coming out of that schedule with a 9-4 or better record could be a big task in a big year three for Coach Boynton.

The OSU 2019-2020 non-conference schedule so far:

at Charleston (Date TBA)
NIT Season Tip-Off campus game (GIA / Opponent TBA / Date TBA)
NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn / Dates TBA / vs Syracuse, Ole Miss or Penn State)
Big 12/Big East Challenge (GIA / Opponent TBA / Date TBA)
Wichita State (GIA / Dec. 8)
at Houston (Dec. 14)
Minnesota (BOK Center / Dec. 21)
Big 12 /SEC Challenge (Road game / Opponent TBA / Jan. 25)