Not familiar with the Northern Arizona basketball program? Never heard of Kennesaw State? Wondering if everyone on the Southeast Missouri State roster is related? No problem. Let WRNL be your guide to the men’s basketball non-conference schedule and walk you through what you need to know.
Toughest Opponent: Creighton, November 21st *Des Moines
I tried to make an argument for UNI or Virginia or even Iowa (okay, just kidding about Iowa), but I couldn’t do it. The Blue Jays should finish in the top three of the Valley and feature a potentially dominating duo inside in Kenny Lawson Jr. and Greg Echenique. The fact that they’re coached by the murderer of Hilton Magic notwithstanding, Creighton will challenge ISU’s thin front court. I know I’m not the only one hoping that Hoiberg "lowballs" McDermott during the post game hand shake.
No Need to Set the Tivo: Kennesaw State, November 24th
I would never advocate missing a game, but if there’s one that you have miss, here’s your candidate. This "scrimmage" should be over right around the time of the opening tip.
Upset Alert (Good): Northern Iowa, December 1st – Cedar Falls
Okay, so it really wouldn’t be an upset if ISU won per se. The Panthers lost three starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team, but this is what happens when Greg McDermott ruins your basketball program; you view beating inferior in-state rivals as an upset and a program-changing win.
Upset Alert (Bad): Iowa, December 10th – Iowa City
This Iowa program has redefined new ways to suck over the last three years, but like ISU, they did away with a shitty coach and now they’re mad. Mad about what is anyone’s guess, but I surmise it has to do with Cully Payne. Wouldn’t you be pissed too if you had to pay to watch somebody with 1/9th of the talent of Greg Paulus, but is just as much of a douche?
Biggest Road Test: Virginia, December 30th – Charlottesville, VA
The Cavs will struggle this year, but this will be just about the final tune up for each team before they head into conference play. Okay, who am I kidding, I just wanted a reason to post a Rahshon Clark video (Virginia dunk is #1):
Player You Should Get to Know: Max Zhang, California
Zhang is seven feet, three inches of Chinese (red) star power…or so we’ve been told. Zhang is the latest in a long line of productive Chinese big men that includes Yao Ming and well…Yao Ming (if you think I forgot about Yi Jianlian and Wang Zhi Zhi, then you’re wrong, those guys just suck).
One Man’s Prediction:Northern Arizona: Win - Cyclones impressive in Hoiberg debut.
Alabama State: Win – Shouldn’t be close.
Drake: Win – Won’t be the blowout it was last season. Close game, but ISU rolls.
Creighton (Des Moines): Loss – Smoking gun in hand, the "murderer" returns to Cyclone country. Unfortunately, Blue Jays’ front court too much for ISU.
Kennesaw State: Win – Scrimmage.
Montana State: Win – Not a bad team, but not enough to challenge Cyclones.
@Northern Iowa: Loss – First road test and UNI returns enough to win this game. Don’t be surprised if ISU steals this one, though.
California: Win – Cal lost nearly 2/3rds of their scoring. The Magic gets rolling.
Southeast Missouri State: Win – Just the name of this school is giving me Deliverance nightmares.
@Iowa: Win – I do think this is a toss up. Home court advantage doesn’t exist in Carver; ISU pulls out a close one
Texas Southern: Win - Wash
Dartmouth: Win - Rinse
Chicago State: Win - Repeat
@Virginia: Loss – Cavs aren’t that good, but this will be a tough road match up.
Northern Illinois: Win – Look for NIU transfer, Darion Anderson to have a big game
Predicted Non-Conference Record: 12-3