Shocker fans can plan their watch parties. The men’s basketball schedule is out. We’re still missing a few times and one opponent (other than the BracketBusters game).
It appears Illinois-Chicago is the reason for delay with the CBE Classic. The Flames were in the field at one point and supposed to play Iowa. It now looks like UIC is not in the CBE Classic, or at least trying to get out. UIC has not released its schedule. In July, the school released nine of its non-conference opponents with no mention of the CBE Classic. Texas, Iowa and Pitt have two CBE opponents. WSU is still waiting on its CBE opponent for a Nov. 18 game. An early schedule had WSU playing Farleigh Dickinson and Texas-San Antonio. Texas-San Antonio is now on Iowa’s schedule in place of Illinois-Chicago.I think BracketBusters, while possessing flaws, is a worthwhile venture for the MVC. Its main drawback may be the cramped scheduling it forces upon the conference because it eats up a February weekend. This season, every team must play three games in six days (Dec. 29-Jan. 3) to start the conference schedule. It’s a shame to play so many games while students are away from campus. It seems like a taxing way to start the conference schedule and we may see some sloppy games on that third night. WSU is in good shape with two home games after a road opener at Illinois State. Consider that Bradley must play at Drake, play host to SIU and then come to Wichita. SIU gets to do the Central Illinois tour with a Friday game at Bradley and Sunday at Illinois State. Indiana State may draw the roughest start of all – at SIU, Creighton at home, at Drake (followed by at Bradley). Of course, it all evens out. Still, I don’t think three games in six days is the ideal way to start MVC play.Still waiting on Northern Iowa and Evansville schedules. Missouri State is out.The Shockers seem to get a favorable start. The trip to Illinois State is difficult. Following are three home games and a road trip to Missouri State, which will be picked in bottom half of the MVC. WSU needs to do well in that stretch. Beginning with a Jan. 13 trip to Indiana State, WSU plays five of seven games on the road. I don’t need to remind fans of WSU’s struggles away from Koch Arena in 2008-09.February appears to be an easier month than January. WSU plays four of its seven MVC games at home. Both its meetings with Evansville, my pick for 10th, are in February.WSU is exploring playing a conference game at Intrust Bank Arena. We know the Thunder plays there on Jan. 23. That would seem to make WSU’s Jan. 19 game against Northern Iowa a possibility. A more exciting option is the Jan. 9 games against Creighton. That’s the game that would serve as a fitting opener for the arena.Glad to see Newman as an exhibition game. I know Jets coach Mark Potter is excited to play this game. It’s one of the big benefits of Newman’s move to NCAA Division II. When possible, it makes sense for WSU to play the state schools.Can you believe UMKC’s RPI was 309 in 2009 – and WSU lost to the Roos (as did Bradley). For a second straight season. Ouch. That is one WSU has to win this season.The non-conference schedule is about as good as a fan could realistically want. It’s challenging, yet appropriately easy at others. The fans in Normal would swap in a second. The CBE Classic gives WSU a chance at marquee wins on a neutral court. Texas Tech and TCU come to Koch Arena after beating the Shockers last season. Cleveland State is a similar opponent from a similar conference. The guarantee games are not going to help the RPI, but that is the price of doing business. Farleigh Dickinson, Alcorn State, Texas Southern and South Carolina Upstate all had RPIs ranked 285 or worse in 2009. UMKC makes a fifth. Maybe that’s one or two too many cupcakes, but I don’t have a huge problem with it considering where WSU is in its rebuilding process. The second CBE opponent could make things worse. In the future, assuming WSU continues to improve, I would think it would want to replace one or two of those 300 RPI teams with guarantee games against better teams.Here’s the non-conference opponents with last season’s RPI ranking: FDU (314); Pitt (2), Texas (41) or Iowa (121), Cleveland State (52), Alcorn State (342), Texas Southern (323), South Carolina-Upstate (285), UMKC (309), TCU (164), Texas Tech (119), North Dakota State (87).Here’s the list of BCS schools who visit MVC arenas (with eight schedules in) – Auburn at Missouri State; Texas Tech at WSU; Nebraska at Creighton; Iowa State at Drake. So far, the MVC has four road games at BCS schools and at least four neutral-court games with more possible. Northern Iowa’s schedule will add to that total.