Those wondering when we'd finally get confirmation of the widely-reported news that Baylor and Texas A&M would square off again in basketball should rest a little easier today. That game, one of several announced today as part of Baylor's release of its non-conference schedule, is now officially set for December 9, 2014 in Waco. As part of the agreement, we will make our first return trip to College Station since the Aggies left the Big 12 sometime next year.
All-in-all, I'd rate the non-conference schedule as solid, if not spectacular. Things start off easily enough with McNeese State in what should be basically a tune-up game before the Bears head to South Carolina to play the Gamecocks. That could be a real test in the team's second game of the year, especially since we'll probably still be figuring a lot of things out in the frontcourt. After that, the Bears come home for matchups with traditional foe Prairie View A&M and SFA, one of the great Cinderella stories of this year's NCAA Tournament. Both of those games will take place in Waco. Then, instead of flying out to Maui as in recent years, we'll head to Las Vegas for a guaranteed game against Memphis and either Illinois or Indiana State. We'll get Texas Southern at home upon our return.
As far as the national consciousness goes, aside from the very early game against South Carolina and that Las Vegas tilt with Memphis, the "biggest" games of the non-conference schedule come against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in early December. The former will take place in Nashville, which should represent another good road test for a team that probably needs it, while the latter, as mentioned above, will be in Waco. After that's done, Baylor finishes (as of right now) with three more home games against New Mexico State, Southern, and Norfolk State. I say "as of right now" because they're apparently going to add another game, probably against a patsy, after the release of the conference schedule.
The full schedule:
|Date||Opponent / Event||Location||Time|
|11/14/14||vs. McNeese State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|11/18/14||at South Carolina||Columbia, S.C.||TBA|
|Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational|
|11/21/14||vs. Prairie View A&M||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|11/24/14||vs. Stephen F. Austin||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|11/27/14||vs. Memphis||Las Vegas, Nev.||11:00 p.m. CT|
|11/28/14||Illinois/Indiana State||Las Vegas, Nev.||7 p.m./9:30 p.m. CT|
|12/01/14||vs. Texas Southern||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|ESPN SEC/Big 12 Challenge|
|12/04/14||at Vanderbilt||Nashville, Tenn.||TBA|
|12/09/14||vs. Texas A&M||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/17/14||vs. New Mexico State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/22/14||vs. Southern||Waco, Texas||TBA|
|12/30/14||vs. Norfolk State||Waco, Texas||TBA|
As I said above, I'd say this schedule is solid, but not great. It won't get us laughed at when Tournament time comes around (if we're in the running), nor will it be considered a great strength unless one of Memphis, South Carolina, A&M, or Vandy is a lot better than people think. SOS-wise, the best part is probably those SEC road games. It's never easy to win on the road in CBB, so if Baylor could take one or both, that would be big. The South Carolina game is probably more scary than Vanderbilt, since by the time we play the Commodores, nearly a month will have passed. We'll know significantly more in the first week of December about our team than we will in the second week of November.