I’m here to stick up for our state’s college basketball fans, who are beginning to be treated suspiciously by our state’s Division I schools when it comes to home cooking.
Let’s just say the meal isn’t as tasty as it should be.
Kansas, Kansas State and Wichita State will play 22 nonconference home-court games during the 2012-13 season, although two of K-State’s opponents at Bramlage Coliseum – in the NIT Season Tip-Off – have not yet been announced.
Of the 20 games that have been set, the highlights are scarce. Kansas does play Temple, Colorado and Belmont at Allen Fieldhouse and all three of those teams finished the 2012-13 season in the top 65 of the Ratings Power Index (RPI).
But KU also has home games against Southeast Missouri State (250 RPI last season), Chattanooga (310), San Jose State (278), Richmond (125) and American (158). An all-star team from those five probably couldn’t stay within 20 of the Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s true that Kansas has that pretty TV look, so the Jayhawks are in on a few attractive non-conference games on neutral courts, including two at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. KU also will play on the road at Ohio State, a fellow Final Four team from last season. The Jayhawks need apologize to no one for their schedule, but the folks who fork over dough for those home games aren’t exactly getting prime rib. When Temple and Colorado are your best home games, well, you get the point.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is to be commended for working hard on the Shockers’ nonconference schedule, along with others inside the athletic administration. WSU pulled off a surprise in getting Tennessee to agree to a home-and-home series that begins this season in Knoxville. And the Shockers will play at VCU, a Final Four team two seasons ago that has remained at a high level.
But the home schedule – the one Shocker fans reach into their pockets to witness first-hand – isn’t as strong as it needs to be.
It’s great to have Tulsa back in the mix and the Hurricane, with first-year coach Danny Manning, will be at Koch Arena this season. But so will Charleston Southern (171), Western Carolina (217), North Carolina-Central (239), Northern Colorado (256) and Howard (283).
Of course, last year’s RPI is not a true indicator of a team’s potential for the following season. Some of these low-RPI schools from obscure conferences could be better. But they could also be worse. And I think the home fans deserve something a little better.
Wichita State will play its third game in three seasons at Intrust Bank Arena. The opponent is Southern Mississippi, which last season made the NCAA Tournament under Larry Eustachy and finished the season with an RPI of 25. But Eustachy has moved on to Colorado State and four of the Golden Eagles’ top six players from 2011-12 are gone. There just won’t be much buzz about a Southern Miss game, just as there wasn’t for last seasons’ IBA game against UAB.
That doesn’t mean that playing Southern Miss is a bad thing. But the Shockers haven’t hit a home run for their downtown arena game since resurrecting their series with Tulsa there two seasons ago.
Now for Kansas State, whose nonconference home schedule this season will have Wildcats fans pulling out their smart phones in search of something more exciting.
K-State does play Florida, but that game is scheduled for the Sprint Center in Kansas City, a sweet 100-mile drive for Manhattanites.
The Wildcats’ lineup at Bramlage kicks off with North Dakota (252) and doesn’t get a whole lot better. Believe it or not, South Carolina-Upstate is K-State’s best nonconference home opponent, at least when judged by last season’s RPI. Upstate had a 140 RPI last season, significantly better than the Cats’ other home opponents: North Florida (180), Texas Southern (237), UMKC (269) and South Dakota (288).
There are 344 Division I teams, by the way.
The average 2011-12 RPI of Kansas State’s nonconference home opponents is 227.7. For Wichita State, it’s 213.7. And for Kansas, it’s 157.5. None of those numbers makes me want to run out and order tickets, but we all know how crazed basketball fans are in this state. Selling tickets is not a problem, given the high level of play for the three Kansas teams.
And there are nine home conference games for KU, KSU and WSU. By the time January rolls around, fans will have forgotten all about the San Jose States, North Floridas and Western Carolinas of the world.
I still think it would be nice, though, for the state schools to give their fans some nonconference meat on the bones.
The Shockers’ goal should be to bring a top 50 RPI team to Koch Arena every season and to avoid playing more than a couple teams with RPIs in the 200s from the previous season.. That’s not outlandish.
Kansas State’s nonconference home schedule is inexcusable. I hope K-State fans, loyal as they are, express their displeasure.
Tickets to these games don’t come cheap, especially for season-ticket holders who are asked to go above and beyond. Well, that works both ways.