A three-game round-robin tournament during the Thanksgiving holiday in musical hotbed Nashville and a clash with former head coach Brad Brownell's Clemson club highlight the 2016-17 non-conference schedule for the defending Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball champion UNCW Seahawks.
The Seahawks, who captured their first CAA title in 10 seasons with last year's sterling 25-8 record, return the bulk of their lineup for the new season, including CAA First-Teamer and CAA Tournament MVP Chris Flemmings and high-motor guard and Third-Team All-CAA selectionDenzel Ingram.
"We're very excited about the non-conference schedule and believe it will prepare us well for the tough CAA grind," said Head Coach Kevin Keatts, two-time CAA Coach-of-the-Year. "We were looking for good schedule balance and competition that would emulate our CAA schedule.
"Scheduling is always a difficult task, but last year's success made it especially tough this time around. The tournament in Nashville will provide great competition while giving our guys a terrific chance to bond as a team."
Overall, the 13-game regular season non-conference slate features five home games, five road contests and three neutral site matchups. It has the Seahawks playing teams from 11 different conferences, with four first-time opponents (Claflin, Middle Tennessee State, Evansville and St. Bonaventure).
The slate includes four opponents who won at least 22 game last season – East Tennessee State (24), Middle Tennessee State (24), Evansville (25) and St. Bonaventure (22) – and three that advanced to postseason play. MTSU (NCAA), St. Bonaventure (NIT) and ETSU (Vegas 16) each had their seasons extended one year ago.
Following a home exhibition game vs. Mount Olive on Nov. 6, UNCW christens the new season on Friday, Nov. 11, against NCAA Division II opponent Claflin of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Orangeburg, S.C.-based Panthers will make their first appearance at UNCW's Trask Coliseum.
Keatts and his club then travels to Eastern Kentucky on Monday, Nov. 14, to battle the Colonels of the Ohio Valley Conference before returning home on Nov. 20 against high-octane East Tennessee State. The Seahawks raced past the Buccaneers, 94-73, last November in Johnson City.
The Seahawks trek to Nashville in late November for their debut in the Challenge In Music City, an exempt tournament being staged at the 8,000-seat Nashville Municipal Auditorium. UNCW is scheduled to play Middle Tennessee State, Evansville and Toledo right after the Thanksgiving holiday.
UNCW travels up to Kalamazoo, Mich., on Nov. 30 to battle Western Michigan before returning home briefly on Dec. 3 to entertain NCAA Division II Pfeiffer on Dec. 3 as part of the Nashville event.
The Seahawks next hit the road for games at first-time foe St. Bonaventure and longtime rival Campbell.
The Seahawks play their final two games before the Christmas break at home against Radford (Dec. 17) and rival East Carolina (Dec. 20).
UNCW concludes its non-conference schedule on Dec. 28 by taking on Brownell and his Tigers at newly-renovated Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. Brownell coached four seasons at UNCW from 2003-06, compiling an 83-40 record and leading the Seahawks to CAA titles in 2003 and 2006.
In addition to Flemmings and Ingram, the Seahawks return starters C.J. Bryce and Jordon Talley off last year's team that reeled off 11 consecutive victories late in the campaign and nearly upset Duke in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Season tickets are available now for $190 plus sales tax per seat and donations to the Seahawk Club are required in certain sections. An Economy Plan Special is also available that allows fans to purchase season tickets for $99 plus sales tax in the second level corner and end zone sections (Sections 201, 207, 211-215, and 221-228). The deadline for renewing priority season tickets is Sept. 1, 2016.
2016-17 UNCW Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
(Times Announced Later)
*Challenge In Music City