Wichita State’s non-conference men’s basketball schedule is almost complete. The Shockers will add an NCAA Division II opponent in late November.
Here’s what the NCAA Division I opponents are up to since March:
Nov. 11 — South Carolina State
2015-16 record: 19-15 (CIT)
2015-16 RPI rank: 205
▪ G Eric Eaves averaged 17.3 ppg and earned second-team All-MEAC honors. The Bulldogs return four of their top five scorers. G Ed Stephens scored 24 points in a 68-66 loss at Kansas State last season and Eaves added 21.
Why this game matters: Things get more challenging quickly for the new-look Shockers. Every minute on the court is important.
Nov. 13 — Long Beach State
2015-16 record: 20-15 (NIT)
2015-16 RPI rank: 84
▪ Top reserve transfers from Long Beach State. G Justin Bibbins averaged 12 points and is Long Beach State’s top returning scorer. The 49ers, coached by Dan Monson, ranked third nationally in non-conference strength of schedule last season. They defeated BYU, Seton Hall and Colorado State and lost to Virginia, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and Duke. Long Beach State also lost leading scorer G Nick Faust (17.4 ppg) and G A.J. Spencer (8.1 ppg), a transfer from Hutchinson Community College. This game is connected to the Battle 4 Atlantis, giving WSU one more non-conference game than in most seasons.
Why this game matters: Monson played a leading role in the whole Gonzaga thing and his team is used to playing top competition. A quick turnaround after the hype of the opener makes this one interesting.
Nov. 16 — Tulsa
2015-16 record: 20-12 (NCAA)
2015-16 RPI: No. 70
▪ Tulsa returns two players who played last season — G Pat Birt (12 ppg) and G Sterling Taplin (2.6 ppg). Ten players are gone, including four starters. Among the nine newcomers (eligible) is former Shockers G Corey Henderson Jr. Former Rutgers C Junior Etou is one of the more experienced newcomers. Tulsa also plays Oregon State, Illinois State and Oklahoma State.
Why this game matters: The Hurricane injected some life in this rivalry with last season’s win over the Shockers. Last regular-season non-conference opponent to defeat WSU in consecutive seasons? UMKC in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Nov. 20 — Maryland Eastern Shore
2015-16 record: 10-22
2015-16 RPI rank: 307
▪ The Hawks lost their top two scorers, but return senior F Bakari Copeland (10.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg), who considered entering the NBA Draft.
Why this game matters: This should be a cruise for the Shockers before heading to the Bahamas.
Nov. 23 — LSU, Battle 4 Atlantis
2015-16 record: 19-14
2015-16 RPI rank: 95
▪ The Tigers failed to make the NCAAs despite the presence of Ben Simmons, the top pick in the NBA Draft. G Keith Hornsby (13.1 ppg) and G Tim Quarterman (11.2 ppg) also departed. Coach Johnny Jones took a lot of criticism for the disappointing season. G Antonio Blakeney was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after averaging 12.6 ppg. F Craig Victor averaged 11.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg.
Why this game matters: A win sets up a better draw in the tournament. It’s not clear if beating LSU will help the resume in March, so WSU needs to grab opportunities.
Nov. 24 — Louisville or Old Dominion, Battle 4 Atlantis
2015-16 record: 23-8
2015-16 RPI rank: 16
▪ The Cardinals didn’t play in the NCAA Tournament because of a self-imposed ban. Sophomores F Deng Adel (4 ppg) and G Donovan Mitchell (7.4 ppg) are expected to make March matter again. G Quentin Snider (9.4 ppg) is the team’s top returning scorer.G Damion Lee (15.9 ppg) and G Trey Lewis (11.3 ppg) are the major losses. Sports Illustrated ranks Louisville No. 11. CBSSports.com ranks the Cardinals No. 20.
2015-16 record: 25-13 (Vegas 16 champions)
2015-16 RPI rank: 116
▪ The Monarchs will play exhibition games in Spain later this month. ODU lost its top two scorers, including G Trey Freeman (22.1 ppg). F Brandan Stith (10.4 ppg) is the top returning scorer. G Keith Pinckney is a transfer counted on to help run the team.
Nov. 25 — Baylor, VCU, Saint John’s or Michigan State
Dec. 3 — at Colorado State
2015-16 record: 18-16
2015-16 RPI rank: 171
▪ Coach Larry Eustachy defends his program after a mediocre season. C Nico Carvacho averaged 11.2 ppg for Chile’s national team. Carvacho played at Sunrise Academy. G Gian Clavell (20.8 ppg) is back for his senior season after receiving a medical hardship. He played in 10 games last season before injuries sidelined him. F Emmanuel Omogbo averaged 10.9 ppg and 8.8 rpg during a season in which he endured the death of his parents in a fire. The Rams lost four starters, among them F Tiel Daniels, a former Southern Illinois player. G John Gillon transferred to Syracuse. Eustachy will restock with three juco transfers and three transfers from NCAA Division I programs.
Why this game matters: Don’t underestimate Eustachy’s ability to build a good team. The Shockers could use a road win.
Dec. 6 — Saint Louis
2015-16 record: 11-21
2015-16 RPI rank: 207
Why this game matters: The Saint Louis fade under Crews turned this series into a disappointment. WSU needs good geographic rivals. Perhaps Ford can revive the Billikens.
Dec. 10 — Oklahoma at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
2015-16 record: 29-8 (Final Four)
2015-16 RPI rank: 6
▪ The Sooners lost NBA Draft picks G Buddy Hield and G Isaiah Cousins to the NBA Draft, plus F Ryan Spangler. Assistants Lew Hill (Texas-Rio Grande Valley) and Steve Henson (Texas-San Antonio) took head coaching jobs. G Jordan Woodward (13 ppg) is the top returning scorer and made 45.5 percent of his three-pointers. F Khadeem Lattin (5.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg) is the other returning starter. G Darrion Strong averaged 17.7 ppg at Coffeyville Community College.
Why this game matters: It’s a scheduling coup for the Shockers and further proof their reach and prestige is increasing.
Dec. 17 — Oklahoma State at Intrust Bank Arena
2015-16 record: 12-20
2015-16 RPI rank: 180
▪ The Cowboys hired Kansan Brad Underwood as coach, replacing Travis Ford. The July death of Tyrek Coger again brought pain to the OSU program. G Phil Forte (13.3 ppg) is OSU’s top returner. G Juwan Evans was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year after averaging 12.9 ppg. Underwood won’t coach Igor Ibaka.
Why this game matters: A 6-0 mark at Intrust Bank Arena is on the line.
Dec. 22 — South Dakota State
2015-16 record: 26-8 (NCAA)
2015-16 RPI rank: 39
▪ The Jackrabbits hired T.J. Otzelberger from Iowa State in April. Former Creighton player Ben Walker is one of his assistants. F Mike Daum averaged 15.2 ppg and 6.1 rpg, leading SDSU in both. The Jackrabbits defeated Illinois State, TCU and Minnesota. Three of their top five scorers are gone — G Deondre Parks (14.9 ppg), G George Marshall (14.9 ppg) and G Jake Bittle (8.5 ppg). SDSU added Butler Community College F Chris Howell in June. Howell didn’t play last season due to injury.
Why this game matters: It will be a sad Christmas break if the Shockers don’t play well in their final tuneup before MVC play. If Otzelberger can maintain, this game offers the possibility of decent RPI help and, perhaps, more of a test than some will expect. Under former coach Scott Nagy, SDSU went to three NCAA Tournaments in the past five seasons.