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Men's Basketball: Making Sense Out of the Non-Conference Schedule

We're a third of the way through the non-conference schedule and we've got another month or so until the conference season starts.

How do we make sense out of what's happened and what will happen this season? This is something I've been asking myself all the time.

I've seen us play schools I know little to nothing about. It's hard to really get a feel for how good we are going to be and what even to expect for the next month or so.

So what do I do? I go to my man Jeff Sagarin in times like these. Jeff Sagarin developed a ratings system to rank different sports teams. You can find these on the USA today website and they're updated on a regular basis. When looking at all of these different teams, with different schedules in different conferences, I go to these rankings to see how we stack up against other schools.

Once the conference season starts, I don't check these as much as I am able to compare across common opponents in the conference.

Here's a list of all the teams we've played and will play in the non-conference season along in order of Sagarin ranking as of tonight (out of 347 teams higher number = worse) . I'll also include ISU as well

  • Iowa (boo!!!!) #60
  • Houston #61
  • Drake #106
  • Mercer #125
  • Jacksonville St. #133
  • UNI # 152
  • ISU #153
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee #218
  • Hawai'i #242
  • UC-Davis #244
  • Oregon St. #271
  • South Dakota State #281
  • SIU-Edwardsville #287
  • Loyola Marymount #329
  • Mississippi Valley State #333
  • Houston Baptist #344

So what do we gather from this? Besides the dissapointment we're considered worse than Jacksonville State and Mercer, you can see every team we've played thus far, we should've beat easily but we had challenges in some of these games.

Also, we keep talking about these next 4 games (UNI, Oregon State, Drake and Iowa), and how important they are. If you look at the above rankings, you see why they're important.

Tomorrow we will play a team pretty much equal with us. Depending on how we do, we will have a better idea if we can hang with our upcoming Drake and Iowa game. So UNI is important.

When we play Oregon State on Saturday, we will see how much improved we are. We should win this game pretty easily, yet MVSU and Loyola are worse and they hung around for too long. If we handle Oregon State, I will have no worries against SDSU, SIU-Edwardsville, and Houston Baptist. We shouldn't have worries, but you can't take anything for granted.

Drake is important because it will give us an idea if we have a shot against Iowa. It also should tell us how we may fare against Mercer and Jacksonville State.

Iowa will tell us what to expect against Houston. Both games are on the road, and these teams are rated similarly. If we can't beat Iowa at Carver, I can't make an argument for why we'll win at Houston. On the flipside, if we win at Carver, I can't argue against expecting to win at Houston either.

Based on these ratings and what I know about ISU today, I would expect to win all the remaining games of teams ranked below us. I also would like our chances against the teams ranked higher against in games at Hilton. I would expect us to be 11-4 by the time conference play starts.

Now before jumping on all of this, I'm basing all of this on our team today and the above teams today. ISU can improve, and I hope that we will. I'm just trying to provide some analysis on what to really expect from our team over the next month. I don't know much about the teams outside of the next 4 we're playing, and I'm sure many of you don't either.

This is why these next 4 games are important and will give us good information regarding our team this year.

I'm trying to make sense out of everything, and hopefully this can help you do so too!