Bowling Green, Ky. — Western Kentucky University head coach Chris Finwood released the Hilltoppers 2009 schedule on Thursday. The challenging 56-game slate features 32 home games and 10 contests against teams that competed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.
“We are very excited about our 2009 schedule,” said Finwood, entering his fourth season on the Hill. “We have five games against SEC teams and 10 games against NCAA Tournament teams to go along with the always tough Sun Belt schedule. Again, we have 32 home games at the “Nick” including Kentucky and Louisville so our fans should be able to get a good look at their Hilltoppers. We play 15 of our first 19 at home so hopefully that will get us off to a good start.”
WKU will host instate rivals Kentucky (Apr. 7), Eastern Kentucky (Apr. 22), and Louisville (May 12) as part of the home schedule at Nick Denes Field. Opening up with Toledo on February 20, the Hilltoppers will play 11 of their first 13 at the friendly confines. The Toppers waste no time in getting the Sun Belt Conference season underway on March 6 as defending regular season champion Louisiana-Monroe comes to Bowling Green.
Setting out on the road to face Tennessee (Mar. 10) and Auburn (Mar. 11) on back-to-back nights, WKU returns home to host South Alabama in a Sun Belt weekend series on March 13-15. The Hilltoppers will then take to the road for five-straight including games at EKU (Mar. 17) and Louisville (Mar. 25) sandwiching a key SBC series at Troy on March 20-22. The Trojans finished 18-12 in the league in 2008, just two games back of ULM.
VCU makes a visit to the “Nick” for a three-game weekend series beginning March 27 followed by Lipscomb on April 1. The Bisons, champions of the Atlantic Sun, were participants in the NCAA Tournament last year.
A trip to Miami, Fla. for a conference series at Florida International (Apr. 3-4) precedes a home-and-home with Kentucky on April 7-8.
New Orleans, who led the SBC in overall wins in 2008 with 43, makes a visit to Denes Field on April 10-12 for a SBC series before WKU returns to the road for games at Austin Peay (Apr. 14), Arkansas State (Apr. 17-19), and Lipscomb (Apr. 21).
EKU (Apr. 22) will kick off a season-long, eight-game homestand to close out April and head into May as Sun Belt series with Florida Atlantic and UALR sandwich an April 28 hosting of Austin Peay.
WKU concludes the 2009 regular season by playing six of seven on the road with series at Louisiana-Lafayette (May 8-10) and Middle Tennessee (May 14-16). The lone home contest is on May 12 when the Toppers host Louisville.
The Hilltoppers, coming off their second SBC Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons, will try and become the league’s first repeat winners of the event since South Alabama in 2000-01 when the 2009 edition takes place on May 20-23 in Troy, Ala.