WSU announced its 2011-2012 basketball schedule today, and the Cougars will open up the season in a fashion in which they are unaccustomed: On the road, at one of the most hostile places they'll play all season -- against Gonzaga at The Kennel on Nov. 14.
Typically, the Cougs -- just like the rest of their BCS conference brethren -- open up with a series of low-major opponents, mostly at home; they haven't played a true road game to open the season in more than a decade. No reason was given in the WSU release as to why it was decided to play the rivalry game so early.
It's pretty typical non-conference fare for the rest of the schedule, with a notable tournament -- the 76 Classic in Anaheim over Thanksgiving weekend -- mixed in with a number of what should be overmatched opponents (Sacramento State, Portland, Grambling State, Eastern Washington, Idaho, Santa Clara, Western Oregon*). WSU closes out the non-conference schedule with the Cougar Hardwood Classic in Seattle against Pepperdine on Dec. 22.
*Western Oregon? A Division II opponent? Seriously?
The 76 Classic could provide the Cougs with a quality opponent or two; they open with Oklahoma and will play either New Mexico or Santa Clara after that. Other potential opponents include Villanova, Boston College, UC-Riverside and Saint Louis.
Notably absent from the nonconference schedule this year is a quality Big 12 opponent, as the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series was canceled (for fairly obvious reasons).
As for the first season of Pac-12 play, we've known about that part of the schedule for months; you can read Grady's breakdown of it here.
Taken as a whole, I think it's a good non-conference slate. They'll play a few quality opponents and a lot of teams they should beat. But one would think that playing Gonzaga right out of the gate is hardly ideal. Although, I guess a good argument could be made that maybe the best time for this team to get them is before the Bulldogs hit their stride. Who knows.
Want more? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
How would you rate this year's non-conference slate?
A (5 votes)
B (49 votes)
C (70 votes)
D (30 votes)
F (20 votes)
174 total votes