Nonconference preview, down south

Baylor: The highlight game is against Gonzaga, currently ranked No. 11 nationally. Baylor hosts the Zags on December 18. The Bears follow that up against another West Coast Conference team, San Diego, at a neutral site. They play Texas Southern and Morgan State after the new year before Big 12 play.

Oklahoma: This is a tough nonconference slate. The Maui tournament includes a guaranteed game against No. 13 Kentucky, there are road games at Arkansas and Arizona plus home games against Oral Roberts and Cincinnati. OU will probably trip up a few times.

Oklahoma State: As is the case with Baylor, it appears Gonzaga is going to be the toughest out-of-conference opponent. The Cowboys get Gonzaga on New Year’s Eve, and Big 12 play will be looming. Look for the Cowboys to get to this point with a very good record. Most of the competition, even from bigger conferences (Alabama, Stanford) shouldn’t be too tough.

Texas: The Longhorns won’t waste any time with pushovers. Later this week, they are heading to Manhattan (the big one) for the 2K Classic. They are guaranteed to play a ranked and talented Illinois team. Later they play UNC and Michigan State in December, then Arkansas and UConn in January. Whew! We’ll know plenty about Texas at that point.

Texas A&M: The Aggies get Washington as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 opener, a tough draw and probably one of the few matchups where the Big 12 team will be the underdog. However, this will be a home game for A&M and they’ll also play Arkansas in Dallas. Overall this is not a terribly difficult schedule, but there should be a couple tests.

Texas Tech: The game to look forward to for the Red Raiders is early in December in Seattle. Texas Tech will also play Washington, a likely Pac-10 contender. Otherwise, Tech’s early schedule appears quite manageable. I doubt St. Mary’s will be as good as their Sweet 16 team from last year, and both Oral Roberts and New Mexico will visit Tech in Lubbock.

Of the south schools, Texas has the toughest nonconference schedule, far and away. It might be one of the most difficult nationwide. You have to imagine it will boost the Longhorns’ RPI throughout the season, even if they get stuck with a couple losses in the opening few weeks.

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