Defending Sun Belt Conference tournament champion and 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 participant Western Kentucky University released its 2008-09 men’s basketball schedule today, WKU head coach Ken McDonald announced Monday.
The 29-game regular season schedule includes 13 home games, 14 away games, two games at neutral sites and has match ups with six teams that participated in post-season play a year ago. WKU will also host two exhibition games at Diddle Arena on October 31 and November 8. Additionally, ESPN2 will televise the February 7 game at Diddle Arena against South Alabama live at 1:00 p.m. (central).
“This is a very strong and challenging schedule,” McDonald said. “Our scheduling philosophy is to be aggressive and play the best teams we can to help us prepare to win the Sun Belt Conference. I am really excited about the season ahead, and the exposure we will receive from an ESPN2 home game is beneficial in many ways. All of us are looking forward to the upcoming challenges.”
“This is a very demanding schedule, and I commend Coach McDonald on the quality opponents he has scheduled in his first season as head coach,” WKU Director of Athletics Dr. Camden Wood Selig said. “We all believe this is a job with no ceiling, and the best way to measure yourself prior to conference season is to play quality non-conference opponents. While playing teams from the ACC, Big East and SEC is challenging, it also provides opportunities for our program on a national stage. This also enables us to bring quality opponents to Diddle Arena in future years and meets our fans’ desire for an improved non-conference slate.”
WKU opens the regular season at Houston on November 15 before opening the home schedule against Campbellsville on November 18. The Hilltoppers play six teams who participated in post-season play in 2008, including a November 30 game in Nashville against Louisville (NCAA Regional Finalist) along with home games November 26 against Southern Illinois (NIT 2nd round), December 2 against Georgia (SEC Tournament Champion) and February 7 against Sun Belt foe South Alabama (NCAA) on ESPN2.
The Toppers also travel to South Alabama December 18, play Florida State (NIT) in Miami on December 28 in the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic, and play at Mississippi State (NCAA 2nd round) on January 5.
The Sun Belt Conference Tournament begins with first-round games on campus sites on Wednesday, March 4. Eight teams will then descend on Hot Springs, Ark., for the quarterfinal, semifinal and championship rounds March 8-10.
Specific game times along with the Toppers’ entire television schedule will be announced later.