WKU basketball announces Conference USA schedule

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Home games against six of the top seven finishers in Conference USA last season highlight the conference portion of the 2016-17 Western Kentucky basketball schedule, announced Tuesday by WKU.

The Hilltoppers will play home-and-home series with four of the top five finishers in CUSA last season – Alabama-Bimringham, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and Marshall. The 18-game conference slate also includes a home-and-home series with Charlotte and single games against the other eight teams in the league.

WKU will be challenged out of the gate with five of its first seven conference games on the road, but it will close the regular season with five of its last seven games within E.A. Diddle Arena.

Western will play seven of its nine conference home games from Jan. 26 forward.

The conference schedule opens with a New Year’s Eve trip to Florida Atlantic on Dec. 31, followed by a visit to Florida International on Jan. 2. WKU opens the home slate the following week against Charlotte (Jan. 5) and Old Dominion (Jan. 7).

WKU continues two of its top league rivalries with road trips to UAB (Jan. 12) and Middle Tennessee (Jan. 14). The Blazers won the C-USA regular-season title last year, while MTSU won the conference tournament and upset No. 2 seed Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament.

The first matchup with Middle Tennessee will be the 133rd meeting in the series that dates back to 1914-15. WKU leads the series 93-39 and 52-14 in Bowling Green.

The schedule continues Jan. 21 with a trip to Marshall, followed by home games against Texas El Paso (Jan. 26) and Texas San Antonio (Jan. 28). The Hilltoppers then head to Louisiana Tech (Feb. 2) – winner of 23 games a year ago – and Southern Mississippi (Feb. 4).

WKU returns home to host Marshall (Feb. 11), Middle Tennessee (Feb. 16) and UAB (Feb. 18). The Hilltoppers hit the road for one last swing at Charlotte (Feb. 23) and Old Dominion (Feb. 25) before hosting North Texas (March 2) and Rice (March 4) in the regular-season finale.

The CUSA tournament will be held March 8-11 in Birmingham, Ala., and will include the top 12 teams in the league standings.

Conference USA's television partners could still ask for date changes to accommodate broadcast schedules. Information on the nonconference portion of the 2016-17 schedule will be available in the coming weeks.