UMass To Face NCAA Champ & Finalist As 2008-09 Schedule Is Released
Aug. 26, 2008
AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts released its 2008-09 men's basketball schedule today as the Atlantic 10 finalized the league portion of the schedule. The Minutemen will be playing the teams that competed for the 2008 NCAA Championship in Kansas and Memphis. UMass takes on the defending champion Jayhawks on Dec. 13 in Kansas City. UMass travels to the national finalist Tigers on Nov. 17 at the FedEx Forum. That game pits new UMass head coach Derek Kellogg against his mentor and former coach John Calipari. It will be the first time UMass has played against Calipari since he left Amherst after leading the Minutemen to the 1996 Final Four.
The 2008-09 schedule marks the first time UMass has scheduled the two teams to play in the NCAA title game from the previous season. Last year UMass played the two teams from 2007 NCAA title game, both in the NIT Championships at Madison Square Garden, for the first time in history. UMass beat 2007 NCAA champ Florida to reach the NIT final and then lost to Ohio State, the `07 runner-up, as the Minutemen finished 25-11 in 2007-08.
"This is a schedule that is filled with great challenges, but one that we are excited to take on," said Kellogg, who was hired to lead him alma mater in late April. "To play against the two teams who played for the NCAA title last year will be a wonderful experience and one that will get the players and fans very excited. Overall our schedule is very competitive and I think the fans will come out and support this team that will play and fun and exciting brand of basketball. I hope the fans pack the Mullins Center all season long."
The Minutemen face six teams that played in the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Kansas, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Xavier, Temple, Saint Joseph's and three more that played in the NIT in conference foes Charlotte, Dayton and Rhode Island.
UMass will have a chance to return to New York early in the 2008-09 season as the Minutemen open the year in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches Vs. Cancer. The Minutemen will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the opening rounds in the University of Michigan bracket on either Nov. 10 and 11 or Nov. 11 and 12. The dates, times and match-ups have not been set. Should UMass win its bracket at Michigan, they would return to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals on Nov. 20 and 21. Those two sessions bookend UMass' trip to Memphis.
The Minutemen host five non-conference games prior to Atlantic 10 play beginning with the home opener on Nov. 24 against Jacksonville State at 7 p.m., in the Mullins Center. After back-to-back road games at Wisconsin-Green Bay (Nov. 29) and Toledo (Dec. 3), UMass returns to Amherst for its annual Commonwealth Classic against Boston College on Dec. 6 at 8:30 p.m. The Minutemen knocked off the Eagles last season in Chestnut Hill to reclaim the crown for the first time since 1999. UMass faces Kansas for the first time since 1999, in a game at the new Sprint Center.
UMass wraps up non-conference play with three out of four games at home, all on Saturday late afternoons. The Minutemen host Hofstra on Dec. 20, IUPUI on Dec. 27 (both at 4 p.m.) and Vanderbilt on Jan. 3 at 5 p.m. The Commodores are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. The lone road game in stretch is a return match-up at Houston on Dec. 30.
Kellogg kicks off the Atlantic 10 season with UMass' much-anticipated return to his hometown of Springfield, Mass. The Minutemen will play Dayton at the MassMutual Center on Jan. 10 at 4 p.m. That game has special meaning for Kellogg.
"It means so much for us to play a game in Springfield," said Kellogg. "The connection with the city and Mayor Domenic Sarno has been tremendous. Springfield is working to become a world-class city and this game is just another step in the revitalization of the city. We are very excited to host a game at the MassMutual Center and look forward to a sellout crowd cheering on the Minutemen."
UMass travels to the new Chafeitz Center at Saint Louis on Jan. 14 before returning home to host age-old rival Temple on Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. After a road game at Charlotte on Jan. 21, the Minutemen return to the Mullins Center to host La Salle on Jan. 24. UMass faces defending Atlantic 10 champion Xavier on Jan. 31 at 12 Noon in Cincinnati followed by back-to-back home games on Feb. 4 and Feb. 8 against Richmond and Saint Joseph's.
The Minutemen have consecutive road games at Fordham and St. Bonaventure on Feb. 11 and 14 before alternating its final six regular season games of the season. UMass plays its final three home games on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. as it hosts Rhode Island on Feb. 18, Duquesne on Feb. 25 and George Washington on March 4. The road games down the stretch are at Saint Joseph's (which is playing at the Palestra this season due to renovations at Hawk Hill) on Feb. 22, at La Salle on March 1 and at Rhode Island on March 7 for the regular-season finale.
The Atlantic 10 Championships continue at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on March 11-14, 2009.
2008-09 UMass Basketball Schedule
NOTE ALL GAME DATES AND TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
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