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14 Days ‘Till OSU Basketball: 2017-18 Non-Conference Opponents Preview

Beaver basketball faces some stiff competition outside of the Pac-12.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon State men play their first regular season game of the year November 10th when Southern Utah comes to Corvallis. That will be the first of seven non-conference games at home this season. The Beavs also play in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando on Thanksgiving weekend, head to Ohio for a road game against Kent State, and battle St. Louis in Portland.

There may not be many giant names on that slate, but OSU will need to need to take advantage of the big home swing in order to boost their resume before conference play begins. Let’s see what they are up against.


Southern Utah - 11/10 - 7 PM PT

The Thunderbirds out of the Big Sky are looking for some improvement themselves after finishing 6-27 last season. Head coach Todd Simon is in his second year at the helm after spending three years as the associate head coach at UNLV. Simon shuffled his assistant coaches around a bit in the offseason as they brought in three new assistants and promoted one, so the chemistry there still has room to grow.

In terms of players, senior James McGee has been tabbed as the leader of the team. The guard led the team in 3-point shots made with 101, and shot 42% from that distance. BYU transfer center Jamal Aytes also seems to have their coaching staff excited and will likely see heavy minutes alongside sophomore Ivan Madunic. Aytes played in 50 games for BYU. This team should be a good first test for OSU.


Wyoming - 11/13 - 8 PM PT

NCAA Basketball: San Jose State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys ended the 2016 season with a 14-18 record and lost in the first round of the Mountain West tournament. Despite that record, they went to the CBI tournament and won the whole thing. But Even for Wyoming fans, this team has quite a different look to them. They lost one of the better guards in program history when Jason McManamen graudated, their starting point guard Jeremy Lieberman transferred out, and some bench depth has left too due to graduation and transfers.

The Cowboys do add some transfers in Nyaires Redding (Washington) and Brodrick Jones (UTEP) along with some talented freshmen. Redding will likely take over the starting point guard spot alongside guard/forward Justin James, who earned third-team All-Mountain West honors. Forward Hayden Dalton is the big piece of a rather deep front court as he led the team in rebounding and was second in scoring. While Wyoming last season was nothing particularly remarkable, the expectations for them this year are definitely higher and they shouldn’t be taken lightly.


Long Beach State - 11/18 - Time TBD

NCAA Basketball: UC Irvine at Long Beach State Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

All-Big West players Gabe Levin and Temidayo Yussuf lead LBSU after a year where they ended up 15-19 and lost in the semis of their conference tournament. They lost 4 players with starting experience (1 went pro and 4 transferred out), but add 8 newcomers with 4 incoming freshmen and 4 transfer students. Included in those transfers is guard Bryan Alberts who racked up 130 points, 33 assists, and 56 rebounds in two seasons with Gonzaga.

Long Beach and OSU played each other last season as well. LBSU won that game 71-67 in Portland. The Beavs played them close in the first half, by LBSU turned it on in the second half and prevented some late game heroics from Stephen Thompson. OSU welcomes this team back to the Beaver state looking for revenge.


Advocare Invitational - 11/23-11/26

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State’s first game of the tournament in Orlando will be against St. John’s on the 23rd. The Red Storm weren’t a good team, but looked okay in spots last year. For example, they beat Syracuse handily and outlasted then-ranked Butler, but those were 2 of their 8 wins on the year. Sports Illustrated picked them to finish 8th in the Big East this year, which is exactly where they ended up last season. The backcourt of Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds should be interesting to watch though.

The winner of the OSU-St. John’s game will play the winner between Missouri and Long Beach State. The loser of the former game would then play the loser of the latter game. On the other side of the bracket are UCF-Nebraska and West Virginia-Marist. You can view the complete bracket and tournament structure here.


Loyola Marymount - 12/2 - 2 PM PT

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions are picked to finish last in the WCC and have no preseason all-conference selections. While it’s tough to stand out in a league with Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, that’s pretty much all you need to know.

Their big pieces are guard Steven Haney and bigs Petr Herman and Mattias Markusson. Those three have to put enough together to replace the production of four seniors who graduated and former Oregon player Trevor Manuel who transferred again, this time to a D3 school. This team that finished 15-15 last year could very well go from average to bad in 2017.


Eastern Kentucky - 12/5 - 7 PM PT

NCAA Basketball: Eastern Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The EKU colonels from the Ohio Valley Conference are picked to finish fourth in their league after going 12-20 in 2016. Some improvement is expected this year with a very experienced team. 5 of the team’s top six scorers from last year return, including preseason All-OVC selections forward Nick Mayo and Asante Gist.

Mayo has scored in double figures in 34 straight games and will likely become the program’s all time leading scorer in the near future. Gist finished last year, his freshman season, in the top 10 in the conference in scoring and assists. He also broke the program record for points by a freshman and was one of only 7 freshman nationally to average 15.5 points and 3.5 assists last year. This is another smaller team that OSU can’t afford to take lightly.


Arkansas-Pine Bluff - 12/9 - 7 PM PT

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Lions finished 9th out of 10 teams in the SWAC in 2016. Their final record was 7-25, 1 win worse than the year before. I give them consolation points for their logo, however.

UAPB are again picked to finish near the bottom of their league. It may be yet another rough year for that team.


Jacksonville State - 12/12 - 7 PM PT

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Louisville vs Jacksonville State Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks are coming off of their best D1 season in program history in 2016. They finished 20-15, then won the OVC tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This was their first ever bid to the D1 Tournament. While they lost to Louisville in the first round, they showed a ton of promise under head coach Ray Harper.

OVC head coaches picked JSU to finish second in the league and seniors Norbertas Giga and Malcolm Drumwright were tabbed as preseason All-OVC selections also. Giga averaged 11 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 1.6 assists per game last season. Drumwright was the MVP of the OVC tournament and led his team in scoring average in 2016. In theory, JSU should be one of the tougher mid-majors in college basketball this year.


Saint Louis - 12/16 - 7:30 PM PT (in Portland)

NCAA Basketball: Saint Louis at George Washington Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Billikens are in their second year under head coach Travis Ford, who led them to a 12-21 record in 2016. There are significantly higher expectations for this year’s team. While they were picked to finish 7th in the Atlantic-10, they have a true freshman guard in Jordan Goodwin that was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school and the #55 overall recruit in the country according to ESPN.

The Billikens also have some solid veterans returning from last year’s team as well as 5 eligible transfers. Keep an eye on this team as the season progresses before they come to the West Coast.


@ Kent State - 12/21 - TBD

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kent State and UCLA Bruins Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Flashes had a mediocre 2016 regular season finishing 18-13, but they were somehow able to put together a run to win the MAC tournament and earn a 13 seed in the NCAA tournament where they lost to UCLA in the first round. They’ve lost their best player from last year in forward Jimmy Hall, who averaged a double-double in 2016.

The biggest weakness is their front court, which in its current state is inexperienced. Their best returning player is probably junior guard Jaylin Walker who averaged 15.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

OSU beat KSU 69-50 in Corvallis last year, and KSU will probably be worse this year. But don’t underestimate what a long road trip can do to you.