The Gonzaga Bulldogs will be losing their best player for the 2013-14 college basketball season, but they will still have a pretty tough non-conference schedule, which they will benefit from.
The WCC isn’t exactly the best conference in college hoops, but it still has some talent. However, playing teams like Memphis, Kansas State and West Virginia will help the Bulldogs get ready for conference play. They will also play in the Maui Invitational, which will have plenty of great teams in it.
Memphis will be good enough to compete for an AAC title in the upcoming season and it would not surprise me if it cracked the top 10 at some point. Kansas State loses a bunch of players, but Bruce Weber is still the head coach. West Virginia disappointed quite a bit last season, but a lot of talent returns and you cannot expect head coach Bob Huggins to have two losing seasons in a row.
Kelly Olynyk is a huge loss, but players like Kevin Pangos will be returning. Plus, playing tough competition in the out-of-conference schedule is always beneficial to any team. It helps that team become tournament tested and makes the competition in conference play not seem as bad.
Playing a bunch of different teams with different playing styles during the regular season is also huge come tournament time.
Whether the case, Gonzaga will be a good team in the upcoming season. It won’t be as good as the team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament last season, but it will still compete and should make the dance once again. Having a tough out-of-conference schedule is good for the Bulldogs and will help them find their identity early on.