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A wether is a neutered male sheep.  In the old days, shepherds would tie a bell around the neck of a wether and run them with the flock and, wherever you heard the bell going, that's where the flock was headed.  The bellwether came to signify an indicator of a trend or a predictor of a direction of something.

 

We've speculated a lot about how good we could be this year.  Playing Eastern Illinois or North Texas really isn't going to tell us much about the kind of club we have.  But, I think there are some bellwether games that could really give us an early indication of how good this team might or might not be.

 

@ St. John's 11/16.

 

St. John's is an intriguing team.  Like us, they come off a disappointing 19 loss season.  They return their top 3 scorers, though, 3 guards who each scored double figures a year ago, lead by Shamorie Ponds at 17 1/2 ppg, followed closely by Marcus Lovett at 16 ppg.  Both of those two were freshmen last year.  To that, they've added 5-star guard and Arizona transfer Justin Simon, who it sounds like has assimilated into their program pretty well, and they've also added Marvin Clark, a 6'7' power forward transfer from Michigan State, a powerful player who has 3-point range.  They won't match us in size.  Their biggest, tallest starter is likely to be Clark at 6'7" and 230#.  So, expect a team that will play small ball and launch a lot of treys. They were 36.4% as a team from long range last year on 763 attempts.  For comparison purposes, we connected on 32% of our 560 attempts.

 

With the players they brought back and the players they added, I think St. John's is going to be a lot better team than they were a year ago.  Question is whether they can play together.  That's a lot of guys who are going to be calling for the ball.  We play them at their house in our third real game of the season.  If we lose, it won't necessarily mean we're bad, because, like I said, I expect St. John's to be a quality team this year.  They have some really good players.  On the other hand, if we win ...

 

UCF 11/23 (Advocare Tourney)

 

This team is frickin huge, starting with 7'6", 300# center Takko Fall.  He put up good numbers last year as a sophomore (11 pts, 9 1/2 bds in 23 min) and is joined in the front court by returning starter AJ Davis, a 6'9" Tennessee transfer who grabbed 7 bds and 8 1/2 points in 32 1/2 min a year ago.  So, those two guys alone accounted for more than 16 rebounds/game last season.  And they have their own version of Duby Okeke in Chad Brown, a 6'9" 240# forward who chipped in 4 1/2 and 3 1/2 in limited minutes a year ago.  In the back court, they have an all-around potent scorer in BJ Taylor, who lead them in scoring last year at 17 1/2 ppg.  And they grabbed a few transfers who will be eligible: Aubrey Dawkins, a 6'6" transfer from Michigan, who'll probably jump right into the starting lineup; Terrell Allen, a 6'3" sophomore who averaged 10 ppg his freshman year at Drexel; and Dayon Griffin, a junior who started 29 of 33 games as a sophomore at La Tech while scoring 11 1/2 ppg.

 

UCF made it to the semis of the NIT last season and returns the bulk of their scoring and rebounding.  They brought in some guards to buttress their backcourt and provide some additional scoring punch.  And Kenpom ranks them a pre-season #68 team.  This is a team we should probably lose to on a neutral floor.  But, there's a reason they play the games.  And if we happen to pull off a W, there's going to be some legit reason to believe we're a legit team.

 

Minnesota  12/5

 

This is our first home contest against a top 150 team (Kenpom pre-season #37) and our 11th game overall.  Minnesota is a conference opponent so we're all familiar with who they are and what they have so I won't go into detail on them.  This game is in the middle of a very tough 5-game stretch after we get back from Orlando.  One-third of the way into the season, though, this game should be a good barometer of the kind of team we might have.  Minnesota is good.  Extremely good.  Kenpom didn't stick them in at #38 for no reason.  But it's at our house.  That gives us a chance to make up some ground on the Gopher's apparent roster advantages.  We'll most likely be coming off a loss two days earlier at Michigan State, and if we can score a W against the Gophers, I'm going to be feeling pretty good regardless of the outcomes in the next two games after that (CU and KU.) 

 

To be honest, if we don't win any of the above three games, I will be a bit disappointed; however, we will be underdogs in all three contests, so the questions might be more about how well did we compete? and did we make it a contest in those games?  If we win one of the above three, I'm going to feel pretty good.  Those are all tough games that, on paper, we should lose.  So, picking up a win in any of the three should be viewed as a major achievement and bolster our hopes for the rest of the schedule.  Win two of them?  I'll be ecstatic.  Win all three and I'll be over the moon.  

 

Even if we win all three of the above, I'm sure we'll still have 2-3 losses under our belts (West Virginia, possibly Missouri, Michigan State) by the time we head to Omaha, so we're in no risk of being ranked rolling into that game against Creighton.  But it should tell us whether we have a competitive team that should legitimately be in the discussion for a trip to the NCAA tourney next March.  Win any two of my three bellwether games, and I think we'll be able to start that kind of talk ... with a very straight face.

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A win against UCF might mean what the win against Dayton meant last year: that you're more likely to go 1-2 than 2-1 in that tournament if you win.  Win and you play West Virginia and then probably Missouri or St. John's, lose and you play Marist and then either Long Beach State or Oregon State.  (I'd give us a 35% chance against Missouri and a 60% chance against St. John's.)  Win it and your strength of schedule goes up considerably, lose and it gets a bit weaker.

 

What makes the UCF game a lot tougher is that it's in Orlando, and if UCF wins it sets up the marquee matchup the tournament organizers are hoping for, with the home town team playing West Virginia.  Unbiased officiating in that game would surprise me.

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4 minutes ago, Dead Dog Alley said:

A win against UCF might mean what the win against Dayton meant last year: that you're more likely to go 1-2 than 2-1 in that tournament if you win.  Win and you play West Virginia and then probably Missouri or St. John's, lose and you play Marist and then either Long Beach State or Oregon State.  (I'd give us a 35% chance against Missouri and a 60% chance against St. John's.)  Win it and your strength of schedule goes up considerably, lose and it gets a bit weaker.

 

What makes the UCF game a lot tougher is that it's in Orlando, and if UCF wins it sets up the marquee matchup the tournament organizers are hoping for, with the home town team playing West Virginia.  Unbiased officiating in that game would surprise me.

It's in Orlando...on Thanksgiving Day afternoon... an hour away from their campus. I'm still not expecting much of a turnout.

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Norm, your history lesson as well as the games listed are spot on.  That said, any loss against an Eastern Illinois or North Texas may also tell us a story...a story we will not want to hear or see.  Point is, we have no room for bad losses this year.  We need to win those games we are supposed to win, with no exception.

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3 hours ago, Norm Peterson said:

A wether is a neutered male sheep.  In the old days, shepherds would tie a bell around the neck of a wether and run them with the flock and, wherever you heard the bell going, that's where the flock was headed.  The bellwether came to signify an indicator of a trend or a predictor of a direction of something.

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, huskercwg said:

Norm, your history lesson as well as the games listed are spot on.  That said, any loss against an Eastern Illinois or North Texas may also tell us a story...a story we will not want to hear or see.  Point is, we have no room for bad losses this year.  We need to win those games we are supposed to win, with no exception.

 

This.  I can stomach losing 50/50 games, but fire up the seat if a Miles-coached team gets beat by someone awful at home again.  Not losing to a horrible team at home is my number one assessment of the offseason.  

 

Good post, though.  I agree with the bellwether games Norm selected.  Those are very winnable games.  

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19 hours ago, uneblinstu said:

If we beat UCF, how does that impact our chances in getting Scott Frost?

UCF is playing Navy & it's option attack this weekend and guess who's simulating their QB in practice? 42 year old Coach Frost. How badass is that?

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20 minutes ago, 49r said:

 

In Lincoln?

No. It's a charity game similar to the one KU and Mizzou are playing, except without the years and years of rivalry behind it to fuel the interest. They'll still have a closed door scrimmage coming soon, too.

Edited by uneblinstu

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32 minutes ago, uneblinstu said:

No. It's a charity game similar to the one KU and Mizzou are playing, except without the years and years of rivalry behind it to fuel the interest. They'll still have a closed door scrimmage coming soon, too.

 

Where is the charity game being played?  And will Kent and Matt be there broadcasting it?

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2 minutes ago, uneblinstu said:

Starkville. IDK about any broadcasting. I doubt it.

 

In the article about the Mizzou KU game, they said it wouldn't be televised, but both teams' radio crews would broadcast it on their networks. That's why I wondered.

Edited by Norm Peterson

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2 minutes ago, Norm Peterson said:

 

In the article about the Mizzou KU game, they said it wouldn't be televised, but both teams' radio crews would broadcast it on their networks. That's why I wondered.

Maybe they will be then.

Edited by uneblinstu

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1 hour ago, Norm Peterson said:

 

In the article about the Mizzou KU game, they said it wouldn't be televised, but both teams' radio crews would broadcast it on their networks. That's why I wondered.

This might be due to the long rivalry and that the game sold out faster than it would take cip to grill you up a grilled cheese sandwich at his place.

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1 hour ago, Norm Peterson said:

 

In the article about the Mizzou KU game, they said it wouldn't be televised, but both teams' radio crews would broadcast it on their networks. That's why I wondered.

 

It won't be Davison

 

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