HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The reigning Horizon League tournament champion Northern Kentucky men’s basketball team announces its 2017-18 slate, which includes regional rivals visiting BB&T Arena and a slew of games against 20-win and postseason-caliber programs.
“We are currently hard at work preparing for the upcoming season,” said head coach John Brannen. “Our goal scheduling this year was to put together as demanding and challenging a schedule as we could. With the likes of ETSU, EKU and Morehead State at home and Texas A&M, Memphis and ETSU on the road, we have accomplished exactly that. We will need all of Norse Nation and our student body to make BB&T the most difficult arena to play in in the Horizon League.”
· Fans will get their first glimpse of the 2016-17 Norse on Nov. 4 when NKU hosts Urbana in exhibition action.
· The regular season opens with fellow 2017 NCAA Tournament participant East Tennessee State on Friday, Nov. 10. ETSU went 27-8 a season ago en route to winning both the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The contest is part of a home-and-home series between the two teams this season.
· Following a home match-up with Wilmington College on Sunday, Nov. 12, the Norse embark on a set of four games away from BB&T Arena.
· NKU will participate in the Island of the Bahamas Showcase in Nassau, set for Nov. 17-19. Bradley, Coastal Carolina, Iona, James Madison, UT-San Antonio, Vermont and Weber State round out the field. In addition to Northern Kentucky, America East regular-season and tourney champion Vermont and MAAC tourney champion Iona participated in last year’s NCAA tourney.
· The Norse follow up with a trip to Memphis for a tilt on Nov. 25.
· A pair of Commonwealth rivals make the trek to BB&T Arena in early December. Morehead State and the Norse take to the court on Dec. 2. After NKU makes the return trip to ETSU on Dec. 6, Eastern Kentucky comes to Highland Heights, Kentucky, on Sunday, Dec. 10.
· Northern Kentucky closes out its nonconference schedule with a road trip that includes stops in Baltimore for a meeting with UMBC (Dec. 17) and College Station, Texas, to square off with Texas A&M (Dec. 19).
Horizon League Highlights
· NKU will host all nine other schools in the Horizon League as part of a home-and-home league slate that features 18 total games for each team.
· The newest member of the Horizon League, IUPUI, is first on the schedule for the Norse. The Jaguars visit on Dec. 28. NKU also hosts UIC on Dec. 30 during the opening weekend of action.
· As part of the Horizon League schedule, Northern Kentucky will have two games set to air on the ESPN family of networks. NKU’s first road game of the conference docket, a Jan. 5 showdown at last year’s regular-season champion Oakland, will air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. When the Golden Grizzlies return to Highland Heights on Jan. 26, the matchup will be broadcast on ESPNU.
· The Norse host Milwaukee on Feb. 8 and Green Bay on Feb. 10, which will serve as NKU’s Homecoming contest.
· Wright State and NKU square off on Monday, Feb. 19 in the final home contest of the season.
· Northern Kentucky closes the regular season with a trip to UIC on Feb. 23 and IUPUI on Feb. 25.
· The deadline for season ticket renewals is this Friday, Sept. 8. For information on season tickets, please contact Micki Ford (859-572-7848 or Fordm10@nku.edu).
· Northern Kentucky’s Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship last year punched its ticket to the NCAA DI Tournament, making NKU only the seventh team ever to reach the tourney in its first year eligible and just the second since 1970.
· Drew McDonald returns for his junior campaign. The native of Cold Spring, Kentucky, and graduate of Newport Central Catholic was a First-Team All-Horizon League, Horizon League All-Tournament, and league all-academic team honoree last season.
· Lavone Holland II was tabbed the Horizon League Tournament MVP after leading the Norse to the title. He averaged nearly 15 points per game last year, a number that ballooned to 19.0 ppg, to go along with 5.6 assists per game, over the final seven contests.
· While Northern Kentucky welcomes newcomers Chris Vogt, Tyler Sharpe and Paul Djoko to the team, the Norse return 77 percent (58.8-of-76.0 ppg) of their offense from last season, including the team’s three leading scorers and top-four rebounders.