Despite losing Mudiay, SMU is a contender

Larry Brown has the Mustangs poised to make a serious run during the 2014-15 campaign. Ray Carlin/Icon SMI

This past season, coach Larry Brown and his SMU Mustangs won 27 games and lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the finals of the NIT. This was a Mustangs team many felt deserved an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament, but their nonconference strength of schedule cost them in the eyes of the selection committee.

The Mustangs had a number of breakthrough wins that propelled them into the national spotlight and earned them a Top 25 ranking. SMU swept the eventual national champion Connecticut Huskies and defeated Cincinnati and Memphis by double figures.

The addition of Emmanuel Mudiay, ESPN's No. 5 player in the country, made the Mustangs a fashionable preseason top-10 team and a team many felt was positioned to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Now Mudiay is set to play overseas. And while there is no doubt that SMU will miss the 6-foot-5 point guard's ability to get in the lane and make plays, the Mustangs should still challenge for an American conference championship.