The second non-conference analysis of the offseason focuses on the Washington Huskies, who will be led by expected top 5 NBA Draft selection Markelle Fultz and forward Malik Dime this fall. Here’s a glance at the opponents on Washington’s non-conference slate this season.
November 13: vs. Yale
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 42
Last Season: 23-7 (Round of 32)
Top Returning Players: G Makai Mason (16.0 PPG, 3.8 APG), F Anthony Dallier (5.0 PPG)
Fresh off its highest win total since the Teddy Roosevelt administration, the Yale Bulldogs will head to the Pacific Northwest to battle the Huskies in Markelle Fultz’s debut. Junior guard Makai Mason, who torched Baylor for 31 in a 5/12 upset in March, could very well defend Fultz in one of the best guard matchups of opening weekend.
November 17: vs. Cal State Fullerton
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 276
Last Season: 10-20 (No postseason)
Top Returning Players: G Tre’ Coggins (15.6 PPG), G Khalil Ahmad (14.3 PPG)
The Huskies and Titans met last December, where Washington defeated CSU Fullerton 83-78, which prompted the first of three 5+ game losing streaks for CSUF. This season, the Titans return its two highest scorers from last season, senior Tre Coggins and freshman Khalil Ahmad. Expect another fast-paced matchup and a lot of points on the scoreboard.
November 20: vs. Northern Arizona
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 343
Last Season: 5-25 (No postseason)
Top Returning Players: G Torry Johnson (9.3 PPG), F Jordyn Martin (6.7 PPG, 3.3 RPG)
If there is one positive to take away from Northern Arizona’s 5-25 record this past season, is that the Lumberjacks faced six top 100 KenPom teams in non-conference play. NAU should be able to take a step in the positive direction this season, moving on from last year’s team that ranked 345th in experience. It’s always wise to be cautious of small schools that are able to schedule top competition, but Washington is significantly more talented and should cruise to an easy win.
November 22: vs. Long Beach State
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 96
Last Season: 20-15 (NIT First Round)
Top Returning Players: G Justin Bibbins (12 PPG), F Gabe Levin (9.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
LBSU has quietly been one of the more consistent mid-major teams in the country, scratching out at least 15 wins a season in eight of the nine seasons under head coach Dan Monson. The 49ers return Bibbins and Levin, and also welcome a trio of 3-star backcourt members. The Beach should be competitive yet again in the Big West this season, and will refuse to back down against Washington.
November 24: Western Kentucky (Global Sports MTE)
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 161
Last Season: 18-16 (No postseason)
Top Returning Players: F Justin Johnson (14.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG), G Junior Lomomba (5.3 PPG)
The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky have struggled in its first two seasons in the Conference USA, the same school that appeared in four NCAA Tournaments in six seasons (2008 to 2013) as a member of the one-bid Sun Belt conference. WKU waves goodbye to three of its top four returning scorers from past season, so it could be another up-and-down year in the C-USA for Western Kentucky.
November 25: UNLV/TCU (Global Sports MTE)
Believe it or not, a potential matchup with UNLV or TCU should actually be more favorable than the semi-final against Western Kentucky. These are two teams that rebuilding in two major conferences, the Big 12 and the Mountain West. The smart money says that Washington would prefer to face TCU instead of the Runnin’ Rebs.
November 30: @ TCU
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 145
Last Season: 12-21 (No postseason)
Top Returning Players: G Malique Trent (11.6 PPG, 2.1 SPG), Vladimir Brodziansky (9.7 PPG)
Regardless of the outcome of the Global Sports MTE, Washington will take on TCU in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs are searching for options after its top player, guard Chauncey Collins, announced in early June that he would forego his final two seasons to pursue a pro basketball career. What remains is two solid upperclassmen (Trent and Brodziansky) and a team that will probably finish dead last yet again in the ultra-competitive Big 12.
December 7: @ Gonzaga
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 18
Last Season: 28-8 (Sweet 16)
Top Returning Players: G Jordan Mathews (13.5 PPG), G Nigel Williams-Goss (15.6 PPG, 5.9 APG), Przemek Karnowski (8.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
Enter Gonzaga. Even with Domantas Sabonis entering the pros and Kyle Wiltjer graduating, this is one of the top five most talented rosters in the country. Thanks to additions of former Pac-12 superstars Jordan Mathews and Nigel Williams-Goss, the Bulldogs have recharged and are primed for another deep postseason run. The Kennel will be rocking for this one when GU takes on its inner state rivals.
December 11: vs. Nevada
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 128
Last Season: 24-14 (CBI Champions)
Top Returning Players: F Cam Oliver (13.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG), G Marcus Marshall (19.5 RPG), G D.J. Fenner (13.7 PPG)
In Eric Musselman’s first season coaching D-1 college basketball, Nevada captured a CBI title and logged 24 wins, the most since the ‘11-12 season. The Wolf Pack are hungry for its first tournament berth in 10 years. This time around, UNR seems to have the tools to accomplish just that. A dismal perimeter shooting team, the Wolf Pack added Missouri State transfer Marcus Marshall, who hit 41 of his 90 3-pt attempts in 14 games last season. This Nevada team could be scary good this season and will contend for a Mountain West title.
December 18: vs. Western Michigan
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 183
Last Season: 13-19 (No postseason)
Top Returning Players: G Tucker Haymond (15.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG), G Thomas Wilder (18.0 PPG, 3.1 APG)
It’s difficult to know whether or not the leash is short for head coach Steve Hawkins in his 14th season with Western Michigan. WMU has recorded only two postseason appearances under Hawkins, but the Broncos continue to contend for MAC titles on a fairly consistent basis. Western Michigan does return a formidable backcourt duo in Haymond and Wilder, which should help WMU offset the inexperienced roster.
December 20: vs. Cal Poly
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 211
Last Season: 10-20 (No postseason)
Top Returning Players: F Luke Meikle (8.1 PPG), F Josh Martin (6.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG)
If there’s one guaranteed win on Washington’s non-conference schedule, it’s the home matchup against the decimated Cal Poly Mustangs. Over 40 points a night is lost with the graduation four Cal Poly seniors (the top four players from last season), leaving only one returning player who scored more than seven points per game last season. It’s going to be a turbulent season in San Luis Obispo.
December 22: @ Seattle
2015-16 KenPom Ranking: 299
Last Season: 15-17 (CBI Second Round)
Top Returning Player: G Brendan Westendorf (12.8 PPG)
Washington’s final game of the non-conference season will be a “road” matchup in KeyArena against Seattle. Labeled as a road game, one can expect the vast majority of the crowd to be donning purple and gold while cheering on the Dawgs. Seattle U head coach Cameron Dollar is in his eighth season with the Redhawks, a middle tier WAC squad. Washington shouldn’t have any problems against SU.