SEATTLE - (June 13) Eighteen home games, three Pac-12 schools, two 2017 NCAA Tournament teams and at least three programs to have an RPI in the top 60 at the conclusion of 2016-17 season highlight the Seattle University men's basketball schedule for the upcoming 2017-18 season.
“Ideally, you want a schedule that will test you during non-conference play,” said Head Coach Jim Hayford. “You want to schedule solid home games for your fans to see. We look forward to playing like schools, we want to schedule other Jesuit Catholic schools, and playing large schools that are part of the Power Five conferences as we constantly look for ways to raise our RPI and the stature of our program.”
The Redhawks will begin the season on the road for five of their first six games, including four games as part of the 2017 2K Classic benefitting Wounded Warrior Project. The Classic, and the season, opens Friday, Nov. 10 at Saint Louis. A brief appearance back home in Seattle brings a Nov. 12 match-up with Puget Sound.
The Redhawks then hit the road for four straight, beginning Nov. 15 at Washington State. As part of the 2K Classic, there will be two games (opponents remain TBD) hosted by Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. The road swing wraps up on Nov. 24 at crosstown rival Washington.
Then comes an exciting stretch of home games. Ten of the 11 final non-conference games will be on Seattle U's home court, beginning with five straight against Idaho State (Nov. 27), Kennesaw State (Nov. 30), Eastern Washington (Dec. 3), Pacific Lutheran (Dec. 4) and Saint Martin's (Dec. 9).
“It's a challenging schedule,” said Hayford. “It begins with high difficulty, and is road heavy, but then gives us time together in our own gym during December to come together as a team.”
A brief road trip takes the Redhawks to Moraga, Calif., to begin a series with 2017 West Coast Conference runner-up Saint Mary's, which advanced to the 2017 NCAA Tournament second round.
Seattle U returns back home to close out the non-conference slate, and the calendar year, against Portland (Dec. 16), Cal (Dec. 19), Nicholls State (Dec. 23), Grambling State (Dec. 28) and UC Riverside (Dec. 30).
The New Year brings the start of Western Athletic Conference play to Seattle, beginning with newly postseason eligible Grand Canyon (Jan. 6). A three-game WAC homestand continues the following week with Chicago State (Jan. 11) and UMKC (Jan. 13).
The Redhawks then hit the road for the first time in a month, taking on defending WAC Tournament champion New Mexico State (Jan. 18) and UTRGV (Jan. 20) in the most grueling travel series in WAC play.
“We'll see how much the guys have grown up after a lot of home cooking when we then take on, geographically and travel wise, the toughest trip in the WAC,” Hayford said.
Four of the next six WAC games are in Seattle as the Redhawks host 2017 NIT Final Four participant CSU Bakersfield (Jan. 26) and Utah Valley (Feb. 3) on back-to-back weekends and later UTRGV (Feb. 15) and New Mexico State (Feb. 17). Sandwiched in between is a swing to UMKC (Feb. 8) and Chicago State (Feb. 10).
“The WAC is really improving,” said Hayford. “I've been really impressed as a coach with the intentionality of the conference scheduling, and their strategies to bring programs up to a higher level. As our program is improving, the whole league is improving which is only going to be good for everyone.”
The WAC regular season concludes on the road at Grand Canyon (Feb. 22), CSU Bakersfield (Feb. 24) and Utah Valley (Mar. 3) leading up to the WAC Tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas March 8-10.
“(Those last three road games) provides some adversity that should get us ready for Las Vegas and the conference tournament when you want to be good, win three games and make it to the big dance,” said Hayford.