WICHITA, Kan. – For Gregg Marshall, November and December will ideally serve as both test and testament.
Wichita State’s 12-game non-conference men’s basketball slate – released Wednesday morning – could feature as many as nine games against schools that qualified for last year’s postseason and up to six encounters with 2017 NCAA Tournament teams.
Along with a potential resume boost, the grind will almost certainly prepare the Shockers for more of the same come January and February when they dive into American Athletic Conference play for the first time.
Non-conference highlights include a trio of December games against Big 12 foes. The Shockers travel to Baylor (Dec. 2) to begin a two-year home-and-home series between the schools, then trek to Stillwater eight days later to face Oklahoma State (Dec. 10). The Bears (27-8) are coming off a Sweet 16 appearance. OSU (20-13) had KenPom’s top-rated offense in 2016-17 but fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Two years removed from a Final Four run, Oklahoma makes its first visit to Wichita since 1975 for a Dec. 16 clash at INTRUST Bank Arena. The Shockers won last year’s meeting in Oklahoma City.
WSU takes on a loaded field, Nov. 20-22, at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Hawaii. First round opponent, California (21-13) was a No. 1 seed in NIT last year, and potential second day foes Marquette (19-13) and VCU (26-9) each made the NCAA Tournament draw. Michigan (26-12, NCAA Sweet 16), Notre Dame (26-10, NCAA Second Round), LSU (10-21) and host Chaminade round out the field.
Charles Koch Arena will play host to 16 total dates, beginning with a Saturday, Nov. 4 exhibition against Division II Henderson State.
The regular season kicks off with two games in four days against UMKC (Nov. 10) and College of Charleston (Nov. 13). Last March, UMKC earned its first postseason bid in 30 years at the Division I level with a trip to the CBI quarterfinals. Charleston – which played in the NIT – is led by former Shocker assistant, Earl Grant.
Following their Maui trip, the Shockers close out November against Savannah State (Nov. 29).
Two other NCAA Tournament teams will visit Charles Koch Arena in December: South Dakota State (Dec. 5) won the Summit League Tournament last March. FGCU (Dec. 22) tied a school record with 26 wins and swept the Atlantic Sun’s regular and postseason crowns.
WSU officially joined The American on July 1, but the real transition begins in late December when it kicks off an 18-game league schedule. The Shockers (31-5 last year) return all five starters and the top-eight scorers from a team that won its fourth-consecutive Missouri Valley Conference title and reached NCAA Tournament play for the sixth-consecutive year.
As a whole, WSU’s full 30-game schedule will feature at least 14 games (and potentially a 15th) against teams from last year’s RPI top-100, compared to just six in 2016-17.
As previously announced, WSU will play home-and-home conference series with seven of its new American Athletic Conference opponents: Cincinnati, UConn, UCF, Tulsa, Temple, SMU and Houston. In addition, the Shockers will play host to Tulane and USF and travel to ECU and Memphis as part of their 18-game league schedule.
Five of the seven American home-and-homes come against teams that finished in the KenPom Top-100:
SMU (11), Cincinnati (23), Houston (52), UCF (68), UConn (96).
SMU (30-5, 17-1 American) swept the league’s regular season and tournament titles. Cincinnati (30-6, 16-2) was runner-up in both instances.
UCF (24-12) won nine of its last 11 games on its way to an NIT semifinal appearance at Madison Square Garden. Houston (21-11) also reached the NIT.
American Athletic Conference dates, plus times and television info for all 30 regular season games will be released in September.