DUNK CITY, Fla. – After putting FGCU on the map with a captivating postseason run, turning Fort Myers into Dunk City and unveiling the best-kept secret in the country last year, the men’s basketball team announced its complete 2013-14 non-conference schedule Monday, highlighted by two national TV appearances.
Led by first-year coach Joe Dooley, the Eagles will play 13 non-league games – including four on the road against BCS teams – and compete in the previously-announced Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic leading up to Christmas.
“I’m very pleased with the balance of our non-conference schedule,” Dooley commented. “We face a number of challenging opponents who will prepare us well for the Atlantic Sun Conference. We’re also fortunate to have multiple national TV appearances in which to showcase our program and University.”
FGCU opens its season in primetime on Friday, Nov. 8, at Nebraska when it takes part in the first men’s game at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The game will be televised nationally on the Big 10 Network and will christen the Cornhuskers’ new $179-million facility. NU went 15-18 last year and returns three starters from a team which claimed five Big 10 victories. The meeting will be the second in three years between the teams as Nebraska posted a 51-50 win over FGCU in 2011.
Following their trip to the Midwest, the Green and Blue unveil their Sweet 16 banner as part of “Breakfast at the Beach” when they match up against Hartford in a 7 a.m. tip on Tuesday, Nov. 12, as part of ESPN’s 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon. The game, which will be shown live on ESPN2, will be FGCU’s second national TV appearance in as many contests and the first ever at Alico Arena. Hartford returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from a squad which tied a program record for regular-season wins (17), despite being the 11th-youngest team in the nation. To read more about this contest, which was officially announced last week, click here.
Tickets for “Breakfast at the Beach” and all FGCU home games are selling quickly. Fans are encouraged to contact the Ticket Office by calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets to ensure their seats.
A visit to Furman on Friday, Nov. 15, awaits the Eagles after their national appearances to commence the season. The Paladins, located in Greenville, S.C., return four starters and welcome new head coach Niko Medved after winning just seven games a year ago.
Two home games against local, non-Division I opponents follow FGCU’s trip to Furman as it will host Eckerd on Monday, Nov. 18, and Ave Maria on Saturday, Nov. 23. Eckerd won 20 games a season ago, while the matchup with Ave Maria – which claimed 23 victories last year – will mark the third straight year the two teams have faced each other.
The Eagles then head back out on the road to face 2013 NCAA Tournament participant and ACC member NC State on Tuesday, Nov. 26. The Wolfpack, who won 24 games last year, lost all five starters from a team that was defeated by Temple in the Second Round. The contest will be a homecoming for redshirt junior Eric McKnight, who hails from Raleigh, N.C.
FGCU returns home to Alico to battle its second-straight NCAA Tournament team from last year when the Iona Gaels make the trek down from New Rochelle, N.Y., for a Dec. 1 tipoff. Iona won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season and was seeded, like FGCU, No. 15 before falling to Ohio State in the Second Round. The up-tempo Gaels – who were also in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 – were the second-highest scoring team in the country last year (80.7 points per game) and led the nation in scoring two years ago (83.3).
After a six-day break, a return trip to Florida International on Saturday, Dec. 7, awaits the team. FGCU earned a 76-73 win last year at home over FIU, which begins its first season as a member of Conference USA in 2013-14.
Another rematch from last year wraps up the home portion of the non-conference docket as the Eagles face off against Samford on Saturday, Dec. 14. FGCU traveled to Birmingham, Ala., last year to take on the Bulldogs and claimed an 86-62 victory.
The final four non-league games are part of the Las Vegas Classic, which was previously announced on May 2. The Eagles will play road games at South Florida (Tuesday, Dec. 17) and Mississippi State (Thursday, Dec. 19) before traveling to Las Vegas to take on Florida A&M (Sunday, Dec. 22) and either Radford or Sacred Heart on Monday, Dec. 23. More information about the tournament can be found by clicking here.
FGCU returns four starters from a team which went 26-11 and became the first in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. Junior Brett Comer (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) has been named by Bleacher Report as one of the Top-10 Most Exciting Players for the 2013-14 season, while senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS) has been tabbed as one of the Top-20 Mid-Major Stars for the upcoming year by the same outlet.
For up-to-the-minute information and behind-the-scenes access to the men’s basketball program, follow @FGCU_MBB on Twitter and Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook at /FGCUMBB.
|Fri., Nov. 8 @ Nebraska (BTN)
||Tue., Nov. 12 vs. Hartford (ESPN2)
||Fri., Nov. 15 @ Furman
| Mon., Nov. 18 vs. Eckerd
|| Sat., Nov. 23 vs. Ave Maria
|| Tue., Nov. 26 @ NC State
| Sun., Dec. 1 vs. Iona
|| Sat., Dec. 7 @ FIU
|| Sat., Dec. 14 vs. Samford
|CONTINENTAL TIRE LAS VEGAS CLASSIC
|Tue., Dec. 17 @ South Florida
||Thur., Dec. 19 @ Mississippi State
|Sun., Dec. 22 vs. FAMU (Las Vegas)
||Mon., Dec. 23 vs. Radford/Sacred Heart (Las Vegas)