The college basketball season is still too new and teams have not played enough games yet to fully trust the algorithms and metrics that attempt to compare teams based on the toughness of their respective foes.
But those inchoate rankings and the eye test seem to agree – Washington State’s schedule has been as soft as a cashmere Christmas sweater.
The Cougars (7-2) intentionally loaded up on easily digestible teams in order to better assimilate seven newcomers before Pac-12 play begins against USC on New Year’s Day. WSU has yet to play a team currently ranked in the Top-25, and has the country’s 348th-toughest schedule according to KenPom.com.
But the Cougars will finish their nonconference schedule with as tough a slate as they could find, starting with Tuesday’s matchup against No. 3 Oklahoma in the opening round of the Diamondhead Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
National Player of the Year candidate Buddy Hield leads the Sooners (8-0). An efficient gunner, Hield, who is shooting 50 percent on 3-point attempts, takes 32.9 percent of Oklahoma’s shot attempts, one of the highest rates in the country.
Gonzaga transfer Ryan Spangler actually leads OU in minutes played with 31.4 per game, while averaging 11.5 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
Tuesday’s game will be played at 8 p.m., with the winner facing the winner of the matchup between Northern Iowa and Hawaii and the loser facing the loser of the same matchup. Tuesday’s game will broadcast on ESPNU. The loser’s match will be held on Wednesday, also broadcast on ESPNU and will tip off at 8:30 p.m. The winners will play on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and that game will be televised on ESPN2.
UNI (7-3) has already proven to be one of the most dangerous team during college basketball’s preseason, knocking off top-5 ranked opponents North Carolina and Iowa State.
The Rainbow Warriors are no slouches themselves, amassing a 7-1 record with their lone loss coming at Texas Tech. While Hawaii always has one of the nation’s toughest travel schedules, in this tournament the Rainbow Warriors will be the only team not disadvantaged by long flights and the beach’s allure.
Also lurking in the bracket are Auburn, BYU, Harvard and New Mexico. Only Tommy Amaker’s Harvard team has a losing record (3-6), and the Crimson have played a tough schedule that has seen them drop games at No. 10 Providence, Boston College and No. 2 Kansas, none of those losses coming by more than 13 points.
So the Cougars will have plenty of seasoning by the time Pac-12 play starts, even if their schedule to date has been less than imposing.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.