UMass Unveils Non-Conference Basketball Schedule For 2006-07
July 21, 2006
AMHERST, Mass. -- With the excitement of the 2006-07 men's basketball season mounting, the University of Massachusetts has released its preliminary non-conference schedule. Under second-year Head Coach Travis Ford, UMass will play one of the most challenging out-of-conferences slates in recent memory. The Minutemen will take on 18 teams that participated in postseason play over the last three years including nine playoff teams from a season ago. Also, nine teams on the schedule have been ranked in the Top 25 at some point over the last three years including six that have been ranked in the Top 5 since 2004. Those teams which UMass will play in 2006-07 include: Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Saint Joseph's and George Washington.
"We have put together one of the toughest non-conference schedules, in fact it is the most difficult one I have played against as a coach," said Ford, who is in his 10th year overall as a head coach. "We have assembled a schedule with these opponents to prepare us for our Atlantic 10 conference schedule where we will have many challenging road games as well."
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UMass opens its 2006-07 season with a visit from regional rival Dartmouth on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Mullins Center. That game will tip-off at 5 p.m. following UMass' football game against Maine held at McGuirk Stadium.
The Minutemen will then travel to the University of Pittsburgh for a three-day tournament from Nov. 17-19. The Minutemen will face Oakland on the 17th, Northeastern on the 18th and the host Panthers on the final day. Pittsburgh was ranked in the Top 10 most of last season and finished ranked No. 16 in the AP Poll.
"The tournament at Pittsburgh will be a great experience for our team," said Ford. "To play three games in three days will be a task for them. Hopefully our summer training and trip to the Bahamas will have served us well in preparation for playing this type of event. Taking on Pittsburgh is a great game for us, as they have been one the nation's top teams over the last few years."
UMass returns home to host St. Francis of New York on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. That game will be followed by the return trip to Savannah State on Nov. 28.
The Minutemen host in-state rival Boston College on Dec. 2. The tip-time for the game against Eagles, who finished last season ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll, has not been set. UMass takes on another school from the Commonwealth just four days later as the Minutemen will play at Boston University on Dec. 6. The game will mark UMass' inaugural game at the new Agganis Arena.
On Dec. 9, UMass will play Central Connecticut State at the Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 p.m. It marks the fourth time in six years the teams hook up in Uncasville, Conn.
UMass then hits the road for its two biggest non-conference games, both of which have personal meaning for Coach Ford as UMass plays at Lousiville and Kentucky. The Minutemen will take on Louisville, coached by UMass alum and Ford's college coach Rick Pitino, on Dec. 13 at Freedom Hall in the Annual Billy Minardi Classic. The event which originated in 2002, honors the memory of Billy Minardi, the brother-in-law and friend of Pitino who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. On Dec. 22, UMass returns to the Bluegrass State to take on Kentucky, Ford's alma mater at Rupp Arena.
"Of course I'm excited to have two games in the state of Kentucky," said Ford, who graduated from Kentucky in 1994. "But more important is the fact that I want our players to see what it's like to play in the type of atmosphere that comes at Freedom Hall and with 25,000 screaming fans at Rupp. It will serve our players well in preparing for the conference season to play in two of the most energetic and enthusiastic environments. Additionally, it is truly an honor to play in the Billy Minardi Classic with Coach Pitino. Knowing how close the two were, it will be very special to coach against my mentor."
UMass returns home to face Yale on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. The Minutemen will take Miami from the ACC on Jan. 2 in their final non-conference game of the season prior to the start of the A-10 campaign at Mullins Center.
Television arrangements are still being finalized. It is expected that the Minutemen will have several national-television appearances on the ESPN Networks. Additionally, the Atlantic 10 has signed a new conference agreement with CSTV which will provide increased exposure as UMass will be telecast several times on that network.
UMass still has to schedule one more non-conference game, but that will be released at a later date. All dates are subject to change as well as the listed game times.
The Atlantic 10 portion of the schedule with dates will be released later this summer. UMass will take on the following conference teams at the Mullins Center: Duquesne, George Washington, La Salle, Rhode Island, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis and Temple. On the road, UMass will play at Charlotte, Dayton, Fordham, La Salle, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Xavier.
The 2007 Atlantic 10 Basketball Championships will be held at the Boardwalk Arena in Atlantic City for the first time in history, beginning on March 7 and running through March 10.