I really do enjoy the athletic department rolling out the non-conference schedule one game at a time. It gives us a chance to talk every day like this. However, sometimes you're driving back from Texas and you manage to write a post about Wally Ellenson on your iPhone (true story!), but your turn at driving means you don't get a chance to write about the daily game announcement.
Such is life.
Tuesday, November 18: at Ohio State
2013-14 Record: 25-10
Returning Points Leader: Sam Thompson, 7.9 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Amir Williams, 5.8 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: Shannon Scott, 3.4 apg
Final 2013-14 KenPom.com Ranking: #20
Saturday, November 22: vs Nebraska-Omaha
2013-14 Record: 17-15
Returning Points Leader: C.J. Carter, 13.5 ppg
Returning Rebounds Leader: Mike Rostampour, 7.5 rpg
Returning Assists Leader: C.J. Carter, 3.4 apg
Final 2013-14 KenPom.com Ranking: #190
Carter just barely edged out rising junior Devin Patterson by about 0.7 assists per game, so that duo will provide a potent backcourt. While the Mavericks are losing their two most productive players according to KenPom.com, Carter and Patterson both averaged over 10 points per game last season, while Rostampour and rising junior Marcus Tyus both averaged more than nine points per game.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Nebraska-Omaha with a KenPom ranking better than 200. The Mavericks began their transition to Division 1 in 2011-12, and they're still not eligible for post-season play until 2016-17. With that said, head coach Derrin Hansen guided his troops to a 14-15 record against Division 1 opponents last season, including a 5-9 record in the Summit League, which is completely respectable for a transitional program. They're going to try to play as fast as possible, finishing in the top 11 in tempo on KenPom each season in D1, including finishing as the fastest team in the country in 2012-13 and fourth fastest last year. They made a huge jump in KenPom last season, finishing out of the 300s for the first time largely because they got much better on defense, jumping from #339 and #345 in adjusted defense all the way up to #178 in 2013-14.