JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Sept. 6, 2017) – Head coach Steve Forbes released the 2017-18 ETSU men’s basketball schedule on Wednesday, a slate highlighted by road games at national powers Kentucky and Xavier, seven non-conference home games, and traditional rivalry matchups with Southern Conference foes such as Chattanooga, Furman, Wofford and Mercer.
Several of the Buccaneers’ non-conference opponents made postseason play last season, with four of those teams participating in the NCAA Tournament. Forbes – whose team won 27 games a year ago, captured both the SoCon regular season and tournament titles, and made the program’s 10th appearance all-time in the NCAA Tournament – said the schedule will once again test his team and prepare them for conference play.
“Our non-conference schedule the past two years prepared us for the rigors of league play and this year is no different. We will be challenged early and often,” Forbes said. “Over half of our non-conference games are against teams that played in the post season a year ago and five of those games are against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament.”
In particular, Forbes said he is excited for the team to have the experience of playing in two of the country’s best college basketball venues.
“Kentucky and Xavier are nationally ranked and historically they both have two of the best home court environments in all of college basketball,” Forbes said.
The non-conference schedule features road games with Kentucky (Nov. 17), Xavier (Dec. 16), Northern Kentucky (Nov. 10), Fordham (Nov. 29), and Detroit (Dec. 19), along with home games against Fort Wayne (Nov. 25), Troy (Nov. 22), Delaware State (Nov. 20) and Georgia Southern (Dec. 22).
ETSU will open the season with three straight games on the road at NKU, Savannah State (Nov. 13) and Kentucky, before returning home to open its home schedule Nov. 20 against Delaware State. The team will then follow the same pattern when they begin Southern Conference play, as the Bucs face games at Mercer (Dec. 31), Samford (Jan. 4) and Chattanooga (Jan. 6), before returning to Johnson City for their SoCon home opener on Jan. 11 with a rematch of the league’s tournament championship matchup, as the UNCG Spartans invade Freedom Hall.
Top league matchups at home will follow throughout the year, with Mercer (Jan. 24), Samford (Feb. 1), Chattanooga (Feb. 3), Wofford (Feb. 23) and Furman (Feb. 25) visiting Johnson City.
“Once again Coach Forbes has put together a schedule that will challenge our team and position us for a very high RPI,” said ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander. “Over the last two years, we have finished the year with a RPI in the top 85 nationally (No. 83 in 2015-16 and No. 56 in 2016-17). This schedule will provide us the competition necessary for us to continue to expose the ETSU brand on a national level.”
Following regular season play, the Southern Conference Tournament is scheduled for March 2-5 in nearby Asheville, N.C.