Sure, it might be a little difficult to get excited about a game between a 3-6 Arkansas State team coming to Baxter Arena to play a 1-10 Maverick team. But hey, at least we get to see former Omaha Assistant Coach James Miller back in town.
Oh wait, no, James Miller left after last year’s Arkansas State team reached 20 wins and head coach Grant McCasland bolted for North Texas and took Miller with him.
Now, Arkansas State is coached by Mike Balado, who was last an assistant coach at Louisville from 2013 to 2017. I don’t think anything bad went down there in that time frame.
Well, never mind.
There doesn’t seem to be any interesting Omaha to Arkansas State connections here. Well, Arkansas State football almost beat Nebraska football in September, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with this. Nothing at all, actually.
Either way, the Red Wolves are coming to Baxter Arena as a 3-6 team that still has yet to win a road game, and the Mavericks will be looking to defend home court as a team that has only played one home game, that they won.
After a grueling non-conference schedule, Omaha only has 5 non-conference games left. In addition to tonight, they have two against non-division one opponents, another chance with Montana State, and a game we all assume they will lose at Kansas. Though, maybe Nebraska can wear down Kansas this weekend.
Omaha will enter tonight’s game as a 3 point favorite against an Arkansas State team that just had a senior leave the roster. The Mavericks might be able to finally play senior Renard Suggs tonight against Arkansas State. Suggs could make an impact against a Red Wolves roster that has 8 upperclassmen. Half of their upperclassmen are returners from last seasons’s 20-12 team.
The Red Wolves may have a better record than the Mavericks, but the Red Wolves currently rank 343rd in RPI, and their strength of schedule is ranked 333. In addition to that, they are letting bad teams shoot nearly 50% against them.
Arkansas State’s leading scorer is 6’4″ senior Deven Simms, who is averaging 17 points a game and will likely be guarded by Zach Jackson. The team’s second leading scorer is 5’11” junior Ty Cockfield averaging 14 points a game.
Even if Simms and Cockfield are working down a tiring Jackson and possibly David Norl or KJ Robinson, the Red Wolves lack a big man that could really defend Omaha big men Lamar Wofford-Humphrey or Matt Pile…and Wofford-Humphrey and Pile love to score down low and flex. Daniel Meyer also had a pretty active game against a Jackson State team that was similar to Arkansas State in size.
The Red Wolves had held their opponents to shoot less than 30% from behind the arch, and Omaha has generally been a bad team at penetrating at getting to the basket and free throw line.
Not sure how much the Mavericks actually need a win over this Arkansas team, it’s not like they are trying to impress the NCAA Tournament committee with their resume at this point, but they will need a win for momentum heading into the Summit League schedule. Also, they need to prove to their fans and themselves that because of their difficult schedule and injuries, that they are better than your typical 1-10 sports team.