With just 12 weeks before the 2015-2016 NCAA basketball season begins, we will look at one team per week from the state of Texas to break down their schedules and predict their success for the upcoming year.
The teams we will talk about (in alphabetical order) are: Baylor Bears, Houston Cougars, Lamar Cardinals, North Texas Mean Green, Rice Owls, SMU Mustangs, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas State Bobcats, and UTEP Miners.
Week three: SMU Mustangs
Even with possible NCAA sanctions looming over head coach Larry Brown, SMU is poised to have one of it’s best rosters in the past decade. Nic Moore, who was the previous AAC Player of the Year, Markus Kennedy and Ben Moore will all be returning for the Mustangs. In addition, Brown has brought in a handful of transfers and recruits that could compliment his already talented team. Jordan Tolbert transferred from Texas Tech along with Semi Ojeleye from Duke. Incoming recruits Malik Milton out of Oklahoma and Sedrick Barefield from California both have the talent to become playmakers early on. It also was recently determined that former McDonald’s All-American, Keith Frazier, will be academically eligible for his senior season, which will add another scorer to their roster. This new SMU squad will likely want to forget about last year’s disappointing loss to UCLA in the NCAA tournament and instead prove their true potential.
Key Departures: Yanick Moreira, Ryan Manuel
Key Additions: Jordan Tolbert (Texas Tech), Semi Ojeleye (Duke), and Malik “Shake” Milton
Schedule: The Mustangs are currently the favorite to win the AAC, but it won’t be an easy task. Almost the entire conference had young teams, who will be coming back this year with more experience and depth. Tulsa and Cincinnati, who finished 2nd and 3rd last year respectively, will be key games for SMU. They dropped both of their games last season to the Bearcats and will need to prepare for a rematch. They also split games with UConn, who will be bringing back five seniors for this year. The key non-conference games include Stanford, Michigan, and Gonzaga. Last year the team struggled with this part of the schedule and it led to their six-seed rank in the tournament. They were dominated by the Zags in an early game last season, which could explain their unpreparedness, but the Mustangs will need to be ready to face a similarly talented team. Overall this year’s schedule is slightly easier for the Ponies.
|Date||Opponent / Event||Location||Time / Result|
|11/14/15||vs. Sam Houston State (ESPN3)||Moody Coliseum||7:00 p.m. CT|
|11/19/15||at Stanford (ESPN2)||Stanford, Calif.||10:30 p.m. CT|
|11/22/15||vs. Yale (ESPNews)||Moody Coliseum||3:30 p.m. CT|
|11/29/15||vs. Brown (ESPN3)||Moody Coliseum||2:00 p.m. CT|
|12/02/15||at TCU||Fort Worth, Texas||TBA|
|12/05/15||vs. New Hampshire (ESPN3)||Moody Coliseum||1:00 p.m. CT|
|12/08/15||vs. Michigan (ESPN2)||Moody Coliseum||8:00 p.m. CT|
|12/16/15||vs. Nicholls State (ESPN3)||Moody Coliseum||7:00 p.m. CT|
|12/17/15||vs. Hampton (ESPN3)||Moody Coliseum||5:00 p.m. CT|
|Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic|
|12/22/15||vs. Kent State||Las Vegas (Orleans Arena)||7:00 p.m. CT|
|12/23/15||vs. Colorado/Penn State (FS1)||Las Vegas (Orleans Arena)||TBA|
|12/29/15||at Tulsa (ESPN2) *||Tulsa, Okla.||4:00 p.m. CT|
|01/02/16||vs. USF (ESPNews) *||Moody Coliseum||TBA|
|01/07/16||vs. Cincinnati (ESPN/ESPN2) *||Moody Coliseum||6:00 p.m. CT|
|01/10/16||vs. UCF (ESPNU) *||Moody Coliseum||3:00 p.m. CT|
|01/13/16||at East Carolina (ESPNews) *||Greenville, N.C.||5:15 p.m. CT|
|01/17/16||at Tulane (ESPN3) *||New Orleans, La.||2:00 p.m. CT|
|01/19/16||vs. Houston (ESPNU) *||Moody Coliseum||8:00 p.m. CT|
|01/23/16||at Temple (ESPNU) *||Philadelphia, Pa.||7:00 p.m. CT|
|01/30/16||vs. Memphis (ESPNU) *||Moody Coliseum||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/01/16||at Houston (CBSSN) *||Houston, Texas||7:00 p.m. CT|
|02/07/16||at USF (CBSSN) *||Tampa, Fla.||1:00 p.m. CT|
|02/10/16||vs. Tulsa (CBSSN) *||Moody Coliseum||8:00 p.m. CT|
|02/13/16||vs. Gonzaga (ESPN2)||Moody Coliseum||9:00 p.m. CT|
|02/18/16||at Connecticut (ESPN/ESPN2) *||Hartford, Conn.||TBA|
|02/21/16||vs. East Carolina (ESPNews) *||Moody Coliseum||1:00 p.m. CT|
|02/25/16||at Memphis (ESPN/ESPN2) *||Memphis, Tenn.||6:00 p.m. CT|
|02/28/16||vs. Tulane (CBSSN)||Moody Coliseum||TBA|
|03/03/16||vs. Connecticut (ESPN/ESPN2) *||Moody Coliseum||8:00 p.m. CT|
|03/06/16||at Cincinnati (CBS) *||Cincinnati, Ohio||11:00 a.m. CT|
|American Athletic Conference Championship|
|03/10/16||AAC Championship (March 10-13)||Orlando, Fla. (Amway Center)||TBA|
Best Case Scenario: With their returning stars, Moore and Kennedy, picking up right where they left off the Mustangs dominate their conference schedule and win the AAC title again. Frazier, who missed the majority of last season, plays up to his previous hype and helps the team win against all of their non-conference opponents. The team ends up as a higher seed than they did last year in the national tournament, giving them an easier first few rounds. They don’t suffer a buzzer beating loss in the round of 64 and go for a school-record-breaking run late into March.
Worst Case Scenario: The NCAA charges coach Larry Brown with “lack of control” after the debacle with lead recruiter, Ulric Maligi, and his involvement with Keith Frazier’s grade changes at Kimball. Sanctions come down before the start of the season and leave the Mustangs with a mountain to climb. They don’t perform as well as they should in their growing conference and end up 2nd or 3rd in the AAC. In the tournament, they enter as a low seed and suffer a repeat of last year.
Prediction: There is no doubt that Nic Moore will be the leader of this team once again and their fate will probably lean more towards the best case option. With more experience, Kennedy will up his level of production in the paint and Frazier will go back to his 10-point average from last season. Ojeleye will receive much more playing time than he did at Duke and will be an added stretch player on the floor. Even with their talent and superior coaching, SMU will probably lose contests to UConn, Tulsa, Cincinnati and Gonzaga. However, they stand a good chance at beating Michigan and Stanford and finishing 1st in the conference. Most likely, even if sanctions are handed out to SMU, they won’t go into effect until after the season. This gives the Ponies a chance to finish the regular season 24-6 overall, with a 14-4 conference record.