An Early Look at SMU Basketball's OOC Slate

Publisher Billy Embody takes an early look at SMU basketball's 2014 non-conference schedule!

Nov. 14 vs. Lamar: The big storyline will be Emmanuel Mudiay's first game as an SMU Mustang. Lamar won four games last year and don't expect them to get better. Look for Mudiay to give SMU fans a taste of what will be the Mudiay era.

Nov. 17 at Gonzaga: Gonzaga is coming off a loss in the third round to Arizona and lose three talented seniors, but return some talent too. The Zags added Byron Wesley, USC's leading scorer from last year to go along with the talented, veteran backcourt of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. Pangos and SMU's Nic Moore were both listed on Fran Fraschilla's list of top shooters. It's a tough game for SMU especially with the team going to be working out the kinks in the rotation. This one is a tossup, but depending on how the team plays, SMU fans will find out if SMU has fixed some of its road woes from last year. This is also a chance for Larry Brown to prove ESPN wrong. ESPN ranked Gonzaga coach Mark Few a few spots ahead of him in their top 50 coaches countdown.

Nov. 20 at Indiana: I'm going to guess that SMU will stay up north and not do the quick turnaround and two long trips in the same week, which will help immensely. The team will be able to rest up after a tough game and be ready for the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers lose Noah Vonleh to the NBA, but welcome in James Blackmon Jr., a five-star guard that will team with Yogi Ferrell to form a formidable backcourt. Indiana didn't shoot the ball well from beyond the arc, but Blackmon is not afraid to pull the trigger and will need to be watched. That being said, this team did win only 17 games with the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Vonleh, on the team. SMU really needs this one if they drop the Gonzaga game.

Nov. 22 vs. Eastern Washington: The Eagles don't lose anyone off of a team that won 15 games last year. That being said, it's in Moody and SMU should roll. The Mustangs have to watch it as this is the team's third game in five days and is a trap game after two big games and Arkansas just a couple days later.

Nov. 25 vs. Arkansas: SMU lost to Arkansas on the road after getting down by 16 at the half. SMU won the second half and should win in Moody even with both teams replacing two seniors off their starting five from the year before. Markus Kennedy had yet to enter the starting lineup when the teams met in Fayetteville as well.

Nov. 26 vs. TX Southern: The Tigers lose six of their top eight leading scorers off a team that made the NCAA Tournament after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, but lost to Cal Poly in the play-in game. The Tigers return Jose Rodriguez and Madarious Gibbs, who averaged 11 and nine points respectively.

Nov. 30 vs. Monmouth: Another team that didn't graduate off of their 2013-14 squad. SMU will have to watch for Deon Jones, who averaged over 15 points and close to seven rebounds last year and will be one of the senior leaders on this team. The Hawks only won 11 games last year though, chalk this up as a win for the Mustangs.

Dec. 5 vs. Wyoming: SMU went in to Wyoming and won in a tough place to play by eight. This year, if Larry Nance, Jr. is back and healthy from a torn ACL, he'll be one of the top big men in the MWC and will make Wyoming the sleeper pick of the conference. SMU should be able to handle Wyoming, but will have to limit Nance, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds against SMU last year.

Dec. 8 vs. UC-Santa Barbara: UC-Santa Barbara was no slouch in the Big West last year, going 21-9, 12-4, but Cal Poly ran them over in the Big West tourney, denying them a chance at the NCAA tournament. The Gauchos lose Kyle Boswell, their third leading scorer, but return Alan Williams, who averaged over 21 points and 11 rebounds a game. This is a team SMU can't sleep on, but in Moody, SMU should win.

Dec. 17 vs. Illinois-Chicago: SMU had a kind of ho-hum victory over the six win Flames on the road, 73-65, but this time the game is in Dallas. SMU should roll over UIC as Kelsey Barlow, who scored nearly half the Flames' points with 31, graduated and two other starters graduated as well. Easy win going into what is the marquee matchup of the OOC slate.

Dec. 20 at Michigan: SMU will have played at home for nearly a month before facing the Wolverines on the road. Michigan lost in the Elite 8 to Kentucky, but John Beilein will reload because of his ability to recruit to the program. Even with losing stars Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III and two other players, Beilein will have UM ready. Caris LeVert and Kameron Chatman are two to watch. LeVert averaged 13 points, four rebounds and two assists per game last year for UM, but Chatman is the #38 player in ESPN's rankings and will provide a solid combo forward to possibly make an immediate impact. A team with a lot of questions no doubt, but Beilein is just as good as Larry Brown at making players fit within a system. Should be a great end to the OOC slate.

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