Football season may not be over, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to turn some of our attention to Basketball. And Tech football’s 45-3 embarrassment gives us a pretty good excuse to focus on another sport for a little bit. And hey, the timing is perfect! The Bulldogs get their start tonight at Wichita State, which you can check out on ESPN3 at 7:00pm Central.
But with that being said, Basketball Season Eve doesn’t feel as optimistic as it used to.
For the first time since 2010, Tech had fewer than 18 wins in a season in 2017-18.
It was a hectic season, that included a top player leaving mid-season and another top player battling injury. But with only one departure (although a big one in Jacobi Boykins), the Bulldogs are in a strong spot to enter the year.
The Bulldogs also brought in some guys who will be able to make a contribution immediately, like McNeese transfer Kalob Ledoux or 6’7 Mubarak Muhammed.
So although this year’s C-USA preseason poll has Tech finishing 6th, there’s still reason to feel optimistic. But how do the Top Minds of gtpdd™ feel?
What is Tech’s best case scenario?
Nathan: Tech struggled last year due to the Harris disruption and Bracey’s injury. Before those took their toll, the Bulldogs looked like a very solid basketball team. By the end of the season, Tech was playing a lot of freshman and sophomores out of necessity. That experience could pay off for a team looking to avenge a lost season.
This team is as talented as any Mike White coached. So I think Tech can get to 27 wins barring injuries.
Evan: So I’m not the most aware basketball fan, but I’m going to try here. Like Nathan, I think Tech can be a pretty solid team in 2018-19. But I’m not quite as optimistic. 27 wins seems like an awful lot, and looking at that out of conference slate has me a little worried. Wichita State, LSU, UNCG, and Stephen F. Austin were all NCAA tournament teams in 2018. While I certainly like that Tech is trying to get a higher RPI to help with CUSA’s attempts to become a two bid league, it seems like all four of those could be losses. WKU is going to be bonkers good this year in conference. I think the ceiling for Tech is to win 25 games and be 2nd or 3rd in the CUSA’s regular season.
Josh: Normally, I’m pretty up to date on college hoops, but this year I’m so out of the loop I don’t even know which big teams are supposed to be good or not (outside of Duke,, but that’s the case every year). That being said, while I don’t know as much about the Bulldogs as I would like, I can say that the roster this year is in a pretty good spot compared to the past few years. As Nathan said above, we played a lot of young players towards the end of last year, so in theory, the should be much better and more experienced coming into this year. Now, with our out of conference schedule and the new C-USA scheduling pods, I’m thinking that we may not have as many wins as we have had in the peak White years, but I do think we will manage at least 20 wins and at worst 3rd in the conference.
What is Tech’s worst case scenario?
Nathan: I can’t see this team doing any worse than they did last year: there’s just too much talent. Even if I’m wrong about Konkol, it would take a couple of season-long injuries to not get to 20 wins this year.
Evan: The worst I can envision would be to be .500 coming out of the non-conference slate and being middle of the pack in conference play. Another 17 win season is about as low as I can see us being.
Josh: There’s no scenario, barring injuries, that I see us dropping below .500 on the year as a whole. Most predictions have us finishing at 5th in the conference with an overall record of around 19-13 and I honestly believe that is the floor for this team.
Nathan: Exavian Christon. We saw flashes from the X-Man last year as a fresh
-(x)-man, but I expect a big step up production-wise from the guard.
Evan: I’m going to go with Mo Muhammed. The Junior transfer from BPCC had 16 double-doubles in 30 appearances last year. He shot 48% from the field, while picking up an average of 9.1 rebounds per game. He could bring much needed rebounding help to a team that placed 11th in Conference last year on the boards.
Josh: Amorie Archibald. I think the sophomore guard has a lot of potential and drive to be great. I expect him to become a big contributor by the mid point of the season.
Greg: Kalob Ledoux. The team struggled due to its youth last year, so the transfer guard will add some experience to a team that desperately needs it.
Will C-USA get a Second Bid into the big dance this year?
Nathan: C-USA is introducing a new scheduling format to try to get a second team in. In the last three weeks of the season, the best teams will play the best teams and the worst teams will play the worst teams. The idea is that the top teams will get a Strength-Of-Schedule boost from this format and that will propel another team into the big dance.
But I don’t think it will work. I applaud the effort, and I think the participating teams’ RPI will improve, but the selection committee has shown it doesn’t care too much about acronyms that don’t belong to major conferences.
Evan: The NCAA is introducing a new metric called “NET” to determine the slots. Historically, the committee has been super fair to strong mid-major leagues, so I’m sure this new metric will be more of the same. (In case you missed the sarcasm there, my answer is no. But a 13-19 team from the Big Ten will get in, no questions asked).
Josh: No. The only way we will make it is if we can win the C-USA tournament. While I think our team is more experienced than last year, it will take a lot for these guys to beat the top of the conference in consecutive games in March.
Greg: Sure, why not.
Make an Oddly Specific Prediction.
Nathan: Tech loses to UAB in the regular season, but beats UAB in the Conference tournament.
Evan: Bracey will hit a buzzer beater to beat ULL in double overtime.
Josh: Anthony Duruji will be on the SportCenter Top 10 at some point this season.
Final Prediction (Wins, How Far Into the Tourney)
Nathan: I think this is finally the year. Tech has improved the roster and I expect it to show. We will get to 28 wins and win the C-USA tournament.
Evan: Look. WKU is going to be really good. I think Tech could be very decent this year, but I just can’t see a conference tourney run. I’m going to say we are in the top tier of CUSA, but ultimately lose in the conference tournament’s semi-finals. Final record…. hmmm. Let’s say 25 wins, including the conference tourney.
Josh: I don’t think Tech will do anything too crazy this year, but they will do much better than predicted. My guess is around 23 wins and finishing 3rd or 4th at the end of the regular season. I still think we fall short in the conference tournament after playing several good teams back to back, but let’s say it’s the semi-finals this time around.
Lady Techsters Preview
Evan: I’d be a bad fan if I didn’t add at least a few thoughts about the Techsters upcoming season. Tech is currently in a seven-year NCAA tournament drought–one that third-year Head Coach Brooke Stoehr will certainly be looking to break out of this season. Last year, the Techsters placed third in the regular season of conference play, led by Alexus Malone and Kierra Anthony’s nearly 30 points per game combined. All in all, the Techsters finished 19-12, and lost in the first round of the conference tournament. They received an at-large berth to the WNIT, where they lost in the first round at home to Missouri State.
This season, the Techsters will be leaning on a senior-heavy team after losing only Malone to graduation after last season. Look for Anthony, Taylor Stahly, and Junior Kierra Lang to have good seasons. For the Techsters, 2018-19 starts out with a pretty tough out of conference slate, facing four teams that finished 2018 in the top 101 nationally (UALR, 88; Houston, 79; Arizona State, 55; Missouri State, 101).
With a senior-laden team and good coaching from the Stoehrs, the Techsters can get back to where they belong every single year: in the NCAA tournament. They can make some noise in the OOC, sure, but what matters is Conference USA play. Tech will need to play strong throughout the regular season and make it through the conference tournament to guarantee a slot in the NCAA tourney, but with a strong enough RPI from OOC, they might even be able to risk a loss in the finals of conference play.
Let’s end that drought and get the Techsters back on track this year, eh?
Josh: I am even more unprepared to talk about women’s basketball this year, but I do believe that the Techsters are on the right track. I believe that Stoehr has bettered the team ever year so far and I’m excited to see what they can do. Hopefully, I can have a lot to talk about once the season gets rolling and we start playing like the Techsters of old!
Nathan: The Techsters are picked to finish 6th in the preseason poll, but I expect them to do a bit better than that. I think the Techsters crack the Top Four Of the conference, but lose early on in the mouthful of a tournament that is the 2019 Air Force Reserve Conference USA Basketball Championships presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Performance Center.