A key element of Arkansas' non conference basketball schedule was released today with the announcement of this fall's SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Razorbacks will square off against Iowa State on December 4th.
Iowa State finished 28-8 last season and were a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the Sweet 16 to UConn.
The Cyclones are #16 in ESPN's way too early rankings for next season. Here's what they said about them:
Fred Hoiberg hasn't merely had successful seasons in his brilliant four-year run as coach at Iowa State. He's also built the Cyclones into a program that can sustain annual losses and still expect to be really good. So it is in 2014-15, when the Cyclones will lose DeAndre Kane and Melvin Ejim -- both seniors, and two of the best players in the country -- but will still have Georges Niang and Dustin Hogue in even bigger roles, Monte Morris and Naz Long emerging from the wings, 3-point threat freshman Clay Custer, and frontcourt transfers Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay.
They were listed along with Arkansas as a team "on the cusp" of next season's top 25 in USA Today's way too early rankings for next season. Iowa State was not included in the early SB Nation rankings. They are #15 in CBS's rankings. I suppose there's a wide range of debate as to how much of an impact losing Kane and Ejim will have on the team.
As we all know, the Hogs' non conference scheduling was a hot topic last year as the team won 21 regular season games but earned just a 3-seed in the NIT. The schedule should be better this season with road games at SMU and Clemson in addition to this game in Ames.
Arkansas' full non conference schedule likely won't be released until August or September, but Mike Anderson stated after the season he was also hoping to find a neutral court non conference tournament to send the team to as well, although none has been announced as of yet.
It would be a big boost for Arkansas to get into one and/or to schedule more quality games in non conference this year because with so many of the SEC's best players leaving after last season, the conference schedule likely won't do them too many favors.
Hopefully, we'll still get a good non conference game in Bud Walton Arena this fall, but as we know, lots of teams don't really like to come play in Fayetteville. We'll see what happens. Regardless, this is good news for those (like us!) wanting a more challenging schedule next season.
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