The 2014-15 seasons had two different story lines for Kansas State and Maryland-Eastern Shore (UMES). On one side, the Wildcats struggled in Big 12 play and saw their best player transfer away, in Marcus Foster. On the flip side, the Hawks were one of the best surprises, winning 18 games under first-year head coach Bobby Collins and appearing in the 2015 CIT.
Heading into 2015-16, the Hawks are expected to contend in the MEAC, while the Wildcats are in a re-build in the Big 12.
Last season, the Wisconsin Badgers advanced to the National Championship game before losing to Duke. They have a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate on their roster, in Nigel Hayes, and are ranked 17th in the nation to open the season.
Their opponent on opening night inside the Kohl Center? Western Illinois. The Leathernecks finished last in the Summit League standings a season ago.
On paper, this game was a no-brainer. But the good thing about these games is you actually have to play them to find the outcome, and anything is possible.
Entering the 2015-16 season, the North Florida Ospreys were looking to build off of last season’s appearance in the NCAA Tournament, while the Illinois Fighting Illini were hoping to overcome their injuries and stay competitive.
North Florida returned the vast majority of their core from last year, while Illinois was without two of its top guards on opening night, and were relying on a new point guard to run the offense. Add those two together, and the recipe for an upset was written all over this contest.