Friday, August 8, 2014

MBB: A Look at 2014-15 Non-Conference Opponents

As the defending-SoCon champion Terriers prepare to travel to Costa Rica, it's a perfect time to look at the non-conference opponents that they'll meet on the court this season.

Stanford Cardinal (Nov. 14 - Stanford, Calif.): The Cardinal from California finished last season 23-13, with a 10-8 Pac-12 record. They defeated New Mexico (58-53) and Kansas (60-57) in the NCAA tournament's second and third rounds, respectively, before falling to the surprising Dayton Flyers by ten points.

Roster Analysis: The Cardinal have some strong seniors (including several fifth-year seniors) returning, along with some experienced underclassmen and fresh faces.

Notes: This game will be part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Iona Gaels (Nov. 18 - Spartanburg, S.C.): Last season, the Terriers fell at Iona, 76-55. The Gaels went 22-11, with an impressive 17-3 mark in MAAC play. Despite being the number one seed in the conference tournament, Iona eventually fell to two-seed Manhattan 71-68. The Gaels were invited to the NIT, where Louisiana Tech edged the New Rochelle, N.Y. squad by one point. Departing senior Sean Armand also participated in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT).

Roster Analysis: The Gaels will be without leading seniors like Armand, but still have enough experience on the roster to make a difference.

Notes: This game will be played at 7:00 AM (ET) as part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon.

Fairfield Stags (Nov. 21 - Fairfield, Conn.): The Stags, in the same conference as Iona, the MAAC, finished 2013-14 with a disappointing 4-16 conference record, while posting a 7-25 mark overall. They were defeated in their opening game of the MAAC tournament, against Saint Peters' University, by a score of 65-62.

Roster Analysis: A good mix of experienced players and freshmen will likely bring better results than last season.

Notes: This game will be part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

South Dakota Coyotes (Nov. 22 - Fairfield, Conn.): The Coyotes, out of the Summit League, saw a 12-18 (6-8 conf.) finish last season, enough to place them fifth in the league. South Dakota was stomped out of the Summit League tournament in the quarterfinals, 71-55, at the hands of Denver.

Roster Analysis: The Coyotes have lost a few seniors, but there will be quite a few sophomores who will be ready to improve this team.

Notes: This game will be part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Sam Houston State Bearkats (Nov. 23 - Fairfield, Conn.): A strong season helped propel the Bearkats to the Southland Conference championship, where they were defeated by in-state rival and later bracket buster Stephen F. Austin 68-49. SHSU finished with a 13-5 conference record, and a CIT berth, where a close loss to San Diego spoiled a win earlier that week against Alabama State. The final record for the Bearkats: 24-11.

Roster Analysis: Five seniors and another four juniors make up this Bearkats roster, along with three freshmen and a pair of sophomores. They look to have another subpar season.

Notes: This game will be part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

Ohio Valley Fighting Scots (Nov. 25 - Spartanburg, S.C.): The Fighting Scots of Vienna, W.Va., play in the Division II Great Midwest Conference, where they finished in last place for 2013-14 with a 3-11 (4-23 overall) record.

Roster Analysis: Ohio Valley will have an experienced team this year, and will be largely intact, as they only had a single senior on the roster last season.

William & Mary Tribe (Nov. 29 - Williamsburg, Va.): The Tribe had a nice 2013-14, as they finished 20-12, with a 10-6 CAA record. They made it to the CAA championship game, where they were defeated by Delaware, by a margin of just one point. Wofford fell to the Tribe by three points last season.

Roster Analysis: The Tribe brings in four true freshmen this season, while returning three sophomores, and a pair of both juniors, seniors, and redshirt freshmen.

Presbyterian Blue Hose (Dec. 3 - Spartanburg, S.C.): Presbyterian suffered a disappointing 2013-14 season, finishing dead last in the Big South with a 2-14 (6-26 overall) mark. Junior Jordan Downing was a standout last season, 20.2 points per game, in thirty-two contests he played in.

Roster Analysis: The aforementioned Downing leads a well-experienced group into 2014-15. Also present are some talented true freshmen and other underclassmen with additional experience.

Notes: The Terriers went 3-1 against the Big South last season, with wins against High Point, Gardner-Webb, and Winthrop. The lone loss came against High Point, in the first of two matchups with the Panthers.

Florida National Conquistadors (Dec. 6 - Spartanburg, S.C.): The Conquistadors, of Hialeah, Fla., participated in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. They finished 2013-14 with a 10-20 record.

Roster Analysis: Mainly made up of juniors and sophomores, this team looks to be your average lower-division opponent.

Notes: Wofford beat a USCAA opponent last season, Johnson & Wales, by a score of 90-48.

North Carolina State Wolfpack (Dec. 14 - Raleigh, N.C.): The ACC's Pack posted a 22-14 record last season, splitting their conference schedule into nine wins and nine losses. NC State advanced to the AAC semifinals, where they suffered a 75-67 setback to Duke. The Pack defeated Xavier in their opening NCAA tournament contest, before being sent home by St. Louis in a close 83-80 game.

Roster Analysis: The Wolfpack are a strong opponent; redshirt senior Ralston Turner leads the returning players with 379 points, averaging 10.5 per game, while sophomore Anthony Barber leads the group in steals.

Notes: The last time the Terriers met an ACC opponent was a demoralizing 74-39 loss to Virginia in 2012. The time before, however, was a four-point victory over Wake Forest the previous season.

Charleston Southern Buccaneers (Dec. 17 - Spartanburg, S.C.): The Bucs had a 13-18 (6-10 Big South) 2013-14 season. After a ten point victory over Campbell in the first round of the conference tournament, CSU's season was ended by Coastal Carolina in a 73-68 decision.

Roster Analysis: The Bucs have five seniors and four juniors on this season's roster, while the remainder are freshmen.

West Virginia Mountaineers (Dec. 22 - Morgantown, W.Va.): After a 17-14 regular season, the Mountaineers found themselves knocked out of the Big XII tourney after one game, a loss to Texas. They didn't fare much better in the NIT, either, as they were defeated in their first game by Georgetown, 77-65.

Roster Analysis: With three seniors and a bevy of underclassmen, this Mountaineers team looks good in the foreseeable future.

Notes: Guard James Long transferred from Wofford to West Virginia before the 2013-14 season.

Duke Blue Devils (Dec. 31 - Durham, N.C.): The Blue Devils looked poised to be a major NCAA tourney threat in 2013-14. After ending the regular season 24-7, Duke notched victories over Clemson (63-62) and NC State (75-67) before falling to Virginia 72-63 to end their time in the ACC tournament. Their NCAA tourney hopes were dashed in the second round by now-SoCon member (A-Sun at the time) Mercer, who defeated the Blue Devils 78-71.

Roster Analysis: While they won't quite be the same as last year's team, this Blue Devils squad flaunts experience and extremely talented newcomers.

A varied and exciting non-conference schedule, indeed. We should be amply prepared for the SoCon slate after these matchups knock off the early-season rust (which shouldn't be much of a problem, anyway, judging by the zeal and determination of the offseason practices) and present some nice challenges for our squad.

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