This is the first in a series of weekly previews and reviews of GSC basketball action. Until the first week of 2007, there are no conference games or set Monday/Thursday/Saturday schedules for games, so this could be a bit hectic. I’ll try to check in once each week to review the games that have been played and to preview upcoming matchups. Since the regular season starts this week for all 8 GSC West teams, I suppose it’s time for a preview.
Wednesday, November 15
Three teams open their season tonight, with Arkansas Tech on the road at SW Oklahoma State, Henderson State at home against Central Baptist, and Christian Brothers hosting Lynn.
ATU will be off and running against a fellow D-II team in SWOSU. SWOSU finished tied for third in the Lone Star Conference last season, which is a fairly comparable conference to the GSC. It’s nice to see this kind of matchup, since it should be close competition, so this could be a nice gauge of how ATU will fare against the typical GSC opponent. Granted, neither team will probably be treating this game like a conference game, with the teams in entirely different regions (thus there are no postseason implications). Still, it’s an exciting way to kick off the season.
CBU has a similar, if not greater test against Lynn. They are the home team, but Lynn is a traditionally strong team in the Sunshine State Conference, which is in the same region as the GSC (D-II South). Lynn went 20-9 last season but lost a shocker to Barry in the SSC tournament, costing them a chance at a regional tourney berth. They were conference champions in 2005 and advanced all the way to the D-II Final Four, where they lost to eventual national champ Virginia Union. I would consider Lynn a perennial favorite to at least reach the regional tournament, so this could be a matchup that will be revisited in March. I like Christian Brothers in this game as the home team, but it should be very close.
Tonight’s other game may not be as close. Henderson State hosts Arkansas punching bag Central Baptist, one of 4-5 state schools that typically play 6-8 games against D-II opponents, losing all of them. CBC is a Division I team in the NCCAA (a Christian school athletic association), but don’t let that fool you. This one should not be close.
Thursday, November 16
Ouachita Baptist hosts the Missouri Version of the College of the Ozarks on Thursday. Even though COFO is the defending champ at the NAIA Division-II level, I wouldn’t expect a big challenge for OBU. My understanding is that the disparity between these divisions should be enough of a hurdle for the visitors in this game.
Friday, November 17
Four teams open up their schedules on Friday, and Christian Brothers will already be playing their second game. CBU will be at a mini-tournament, as will Harding, Delta State, and Southern Arkansas.
Harding will be in Austin, Texas to face St. Edwards, who won the D-II Heartland Conference last season and went 21-9, but they were ousted in the first round of the NCAAs against Southwest Baptist. This should be a good game between two potential conference leaders.
Delta State, which is hosting its tournament, will face South Region opponent Clark Atlanta of the SIAC on Friday night. Clark-Atlanta is coming off a dismal 4-24 campaign in a dismal D-II conference, the SIAC. Don’t expect much of a challenge, despite the in-region matchup.
Southern Arkansas is also at the DSU tournament, where they will also face a SIAC opponent, albeit a better one. Miles went a comparatively impressive 10-19 last year, but they were practically dismantled by GSC opponents. Still, SAU is not a good team, so this could be an interesting in-region game, even if it has no tournament implication.
Christian Brothers will be playing D-II GLIAC opponent Wayne State in a game at Highland Heights, KY (they won’t play host school Northern Kentucky). This is the Michigan version of Wayne State (there is another WSU in Nebraska). This WSU went 6-11 in the GLIAC last year, a solid record in a tough D-II conference. This will be another test for the Bucs, even though it’s not a region game.
Finally, Henderson State will host West Alabama in a GSC West vs. East matchup. UWA went 4-10 last year in the GSC East and should be the underdog in this in-region (but non-conference) game.
Saturday, November 18
Six GSC West games highlight this busy night of exciting games. HU, DSU, SAU, and CBU continue their tournament games, while UAM and OBU host other opponents.
Christian Brothers will face Ferris State, their second GLIAC opponent in as many nights. Ferris St. was much better than Wayne St. last year, though, finishing 18-13, 13-5 in the GLIAC. Though they lost the GLIAC tourney, they did reach the NCAAs, losing to St. Joe’s (IN) in the first round. This will be the Bucs’ third consecutive tough opponent to start the season.
Harding will face another Heartland Conference D-II opponent on Saturday. Incarnate Word finished 0-12 in that conference a year ago, so this will theoretically be a less-difficult matchup than St. Edward’s.
DSU and SAU will play the SIAC team that they didn’t play the night before, which means that DSU will face Miles (still not much of a contest), while SAU will face Clark Atlanta in a winnable game for them.
UAM will also be facing a SIAC opponent on Saturday, but it’s just a single game for them at home against LeMoyne-Owen. LO was 8-20 overall last year and should be an easy win for the Weevils.
OBU will be at home against Ecclesia, in one of many GSC West games for the small Springdale, Arkansas school. They will also visit Harding, Delta State, UAM, and SAU this season, and they should be dismantled each time. Ecclesia’s website says they are playing in D-II of the NCCAA this year, although that remains to be seen on the NCCAA website.
That’s the week in GSC West games. I’ll try to post some scores and evaluations on Sunday, with the next week’s previews coming by Tuesday night (when the next game occurs). I may also try more frequent posts if I get bogged down trying to cover a week’s worth of games at a time.