Opinion: TCU basketball’s 2011-2012 schedule analysis

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    TCU basketball’s 2011-2012 schedule has its fans excited about an impressive crop of out-of-conference games and a Mountain West Conference that is totally up for grabs. Over half of TCU’s games are against teams that took part in postseason play a year ago.

    After opening the season with two games that should result in wins at home, TCU will head to the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.. It will be there that TCU will learn exactly where they stand early on in the season. The first game of the tournament pits TCU against Virginia of the ACC. Mike Scott and Joe Harris will lead the Cavaliers team that went 16-15 a year ago.
    If the Frogs are able to beat Virginia and Drexel or Norfolk State in the second round, they could find themselves in a match up versus Marquette in what will be a conference rivalry a year from now. The Frogs could also play Ole Miss in the Paradise Jam.

    After Thanksgiving, the Frogs will play several other key out-of-conference games before starting Mountain West Conference play. A game at Houston right after returning from St. Thomas is a game the Frogs need to win. In December, home games versus Texas Tech and Nebraska headline a schedule that also includes USC and Tulsa.

    Last season, the Frogs knocked off Texas Tech in Lubbock but fell to Nebraska right after. Both games, which should draw good crowds at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, are winnable games for a TCU team that now has more depth than it ever has had during head coach Jim Christian’s tenure. On Dec. 19, TCU will head to play USC in California, and the Trojans will be looking for revenge for the Frogs’ blow out of Kevin O’Neill’s team in Fort Worth last season.

    The Frogs’ final test before entering conference play will be Rice. The Frogs took a tough loss a year ago at Rice, and Rice is a team the Frogs need to beat. With Utah and BYU now out of the conference, Boise State has stepped into their places.

    BYU’s success was well-chronicled a year ago, and Utah, a team that boasted two seven-foot centers a year ago, was also a consistently strong team. As a result of their departure, the MWC seems wide open. San Diego State lost their star Kawhi Leonard to the NBA draft and lost several other key players as well.

    Lon Kruger left UNLV this offseason as well to take a head coaching position at Oklahoma.
    On Feb. 8, after seven conference games, TCU will take a break from conference play and make the trip to Dallas to take on SMU. TCU pounded the Ponies a year ago. TCU’s final two home games will be crucial as the Frogs play former Indiana star Steve Alford’s New Mexico team and San Diego State. The Mountain West Conference championship will take place March 8-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Jim Christian will have to rely on several newcomers this season, but the Frogs have a good chance to make a large leap up the Mountain West Conference standings.

    Alex Apple is a sophomore journalism and political science major from Nashville, Tenn.