As we all know, the metric that ultimately kept the Oklahoma State out of the NCAA tournament this year was its lacking non-conference strength of schedule grade.
While its sub-250th ranked non-con schedule was really only a concern when debating the merits of which final teams to let in, it was the tipping point between other bubble teams.
Luckily, that shouldn’t be a problem moving forward.
Boynton had a few comments on OSU’s schedule in his interview with the Stillwater Newspress this week that should inspire confidence moving forward on that front.
“I think it was made clear that maybe we played too many of the lower RPI teams and that will be something we address for sure,” Boynton said of this past year’s schedule. “I think other than that, there wasn’t a whole lot. I think it was just one of those things where we were on the border and it was a way to keep us out. The key is play better, first of all, play more consistently and then let’s knock off a couple different games and elevate those.”
Yes, OSU was a little unlucky this year, but it had a solid schedule with some marquee opponents on it. I’ll say this: despite the rankings, I still think OSU played a more attractive non-conference schedule than say, TCU. The Horned Frogs’ was ranked 44th, but featured zero true road games and one ranked opponent in Nevada.
Alas, rankings are what ultimately matters most. What fills me with joy though, is Boynton’s comment on the schedule moving forward. Both that it is something they will address, and this…
“We’re still going to play in some tournament and play a marquee game at home and one on the road. Then we’ve got the league – 18 games against teams in the top 75 at worst in the country.”
I don’t mind having a few Pepperdines and Charlottes on the schedule, you need warm ups early and a break late. Also, make sure to have a couple of wins over low-100 RPI teams that make the committee happy as well.
But what’s most important is having those marquee home games. Those games against name opponents that every fan will recognize and get excited for. OSU has done a decent job of that in recent years of having one on the schedule more often than not. We’ve seen teams like Wichita State, Butler, Maryland, and Virginia Tech, among others.
But it hasn’t been consistent. OSU faced Wichita State at home this year. But the last “name team” to come to Gallagher Iba Arena was Maryland in 2014. Yes, I know Arkansas came to Stillwater last season. But I’m not counting the Big 12/SEC Challenge games, because A. those happen in late January and B. they are scheduled for the school.
Fans want to see teams the likes of Wichita State and Maryland come to Stillwater. But they deserve for it to happen every year. I realize it’s not always easy, but instead of one-off neutral site games against Minnesota, Florida, or Florida State, get one of those schools to actually agree to come to the plains for a home-and-home series.
Based on his quote, that’s something Boynton seems eager to make happen.
Here, to me, is what the perfect non-conference schedule look like.
- Neutral site tournament — two to three games
- 2 road games – at least one true.
- 1 Big 12/SEC Challenge Game – OSU should get a home game this season.
- 1 marquee home game – Any chance on Syracuse this year?
- 6 “Win-em” home games – Keep at least four of these against teams with an expected RPI above 200.
Building a solid basketball schedule isn’t hard. OSU actually did a good job of it this year, they just whiffed on a couple of teams, and frankly, didn’t win enough games.
Looking to this upcoming season, the Cowboys should already have at least two solid RPI-boosting games in the Advocare Invitational tournament. With an improved SEC conference, you can expect OSU to get a nice (hopefully home) game in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. That just leaves filling the schedule out with Ws and an opponent or two to get excited about. I suggest setting up two marquee home-and-homes with one starting in Stillwater this year and the other on the road.
Whatever they do, in Boynton I trust. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with for 2018.