Men’s basketball schedule review

Cougars face tough opponents in, out of conference this season



Then-sophomore forward Marvin Cannon takes a shot on Feb. 23 in Beasley Coliseum.

KURIA POUNDS, Evergreen reporter

WSU men’s basketball starts on Nov. 7 and spans all the way through March 7. For four straight months, Cougar basketball is back in full effect. This season will be a big test for WSU with new head coach Kyle Smith.

The non-conference game slate only consists of one former tournament team from the 2018-19 season, which is New Mexico State University. Considering most of the games are in Pullman, the Cougars should fly through the beginning of the season with ease, going 7-3.

WSU is involved in the Cayman Islands Classic in late November. Their first scheduled matchup is against the University of Nebraska. Since this is a tournament, the Cougars don’t know who they will play next, but if they lose or win, they face either George Mason University or Old Dominion University.

Then conference play starts, and this is where the fun starts for WSU. They open up with two home games against Southern California and UCLA, then travel to the Bay Area to play California and Stanford University. Historically, the Cougars have struggled in conference play, and this schedule doesn’t help them at all.’s own reporter Andy Katz predicted, as of Sep. 13, that there will be six teams making the NCAA tournament in March. The Cougars, twice in the season, play three of the six teams in a row. The six teams are University of Colorado, Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Southern California, University of Washington and University of Oregon. During the first stretch, they play five of the six teams in a seven-game span.

This schedule is not lined up for Cougar success.

WSU starts conference play at home against USC and UCLA, then travels to California and Stanford. I do not see them winning more than one game in this four-game span, with the talent that both USC and UCLA attract, Stanford absolutely demolishing WSU last year in Palo Alto by almost 48 points, and California upsetting them in Berkeley last year.

WSU will win against Cal, lose against USC, and keep it close with both UCLA and Stanford, but will end in a loss. This will have the Cougars starting out 1-3 in conference play and 8-6 overall.

After that four-game slate, they play host to Oregon and Oregon State before traveling to play Colorado and then Utah. Oregon held the most wins against WSU last year, with three, including one in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. Oregon State will have the future Pac-12 player of the year back, Tres Tinkle. Colorado will be a sleeper team in the Pac-12, even after splitting the record last even at 1-1, and Utah will not be easy for the Cougs.

WSU will also go 1-3 in this slate, losing to Colorado, Oregon and Oregon State, but upsetting Utah in Salt Lake City. This now brings WSU to a 2-6 conference record, 10-12 overall.

Then comes the first hard stretch, they host all three games against Arizona State, Arizona and University of Washington, back-to-back-to-back. All three teams defeated WSU in Pullman, and the same thing will happen again this year, but one of these three games will be a lot closer than you think. But now, this brings the Cougars’ record to 2-9 in the conference, 10-15 overall.

Halfway through conference play, and the Cougars are looking to repeat in terms of their record, sitting in at 2-9 before the rest of conference play concludes.

After the three-game slate of tournament teams, WSU then travels to UCLA, then USC and after, plays host to California and Stanford to wrap up their regular season meetings. Since at this time, they will have played each other once before in the season, WSU will look to have a different result.

WSU will go 2-2 in this slate, beating California at home and UCLA on the road, but losing to USC in Los Angeles and Stanford in Pullman. This elevates the regular season record to 4-11 on the season, 12-17 overall.

But then, to close out the season, they play University of Washington, Arizona and Arizona State, all on the road, back-to-back-to-back. Now last year, WSU did steal two games in Arizona against both ASU and University of Arizona. However, I don’t see that happening again, especially how late in the season it is and how those teams will be fighting for a tournament bid. With University of Washington, they beat down WSU in the first game of conference play last season, and now that the game in Seattle is late this season, they will also be fighting for a tournament bid.

WSU will go 0-3 in the last three-game slate of the season, finishing with a conference record of 4-14, just like last season, and finishing 12-20 overall.

With that, WSU will finish 11th in the Pac-12 conference, right in front of California and enter the Pac-12 tournament with a first-round matchup against a tournament bubble team, which could be Arizona State.

I hope WSU has a successful season, as a Cougar, but with the hype of the Pac-12 this year, I don’t see WSU faring out well under new management.