The Nebraska men’s basketball team will be battle-tested for the start of Big Ten play, as the Huskers released their 2013-14 non-conference schedule Friday.
The slate, which includes matchups with Sweet 16 teams Florida Gulf Coast and Miami, will feature a minimum of six teams that won last 20 games in 2012-13. One year after having a schedule that was one of the toughest in the nation, Nebraska Coach Tim Miles has raised the bar for the Huskers in year two.
“It’s a phenomenal schedule, both home and away,” Nebraska Coach Miles said. “I can’t imagine it won’t be one of the top 25 schedules in the country.”
Nebraska will play five of its 12 non-conference games away from Lincoln, highlighted by three games at the Charleston Classic, an eight-team field that includes first-round opponent UMass along with NCAA qualifiers New Mexico, Temple and Davidson, and road games at NCAA Tournament qualifiers Creighton and Cincinnati.
Nebraska’s lone exhibition will be on Monday, Nov. 4, when the Huskers welcome Nebraska-Kearney to Pinnacle Bank Arena. It will be the third time NU and UNK have played an exhibition contest and the first since 2006-07. NU and UNK also squared off in exhibition games in 2001 and 2004.
The regular-season opener at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for Friday, Nov. 8, when the Huskers play host to Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles bring back four starters from a team that made the NCAA Sweet 16 and finished with a 26-11 record. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, NU continues a three-game homestand against a Western Illinois squad that won the Summit League regular season title and went 22-8 on the season. WIU, which will face the Huskers for the first time since 2001-02, ranked second nationally in scoring defense last year, allowing 52.7 points per game for Coach Jim Molinari. NU concludes the stretch on Sunday, Nov. 18 against South Carolina State, which returns four starters. The Huskers won their only previous matchup with South Carolina State in 2008-09.
As previously announced, the Huskers will take on UMass in the opener of the Charleston Classic on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 11:30 a.m. (CT) on ESPN3. It will be the first-ever meeting on the court between the two programs, The Minutemen went 21-12 last year and reached the NIT. UMass returns three starters, including All-Atlantic 10 point guard Chaz Williams, who ranked third nationally in assists per game (7.3 apg) while also averaging a team-high 15.5 points per game.
Nebraska will take on either UAB or New Mexico on Friday, Nov. 22, with the semifinal taking place at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on ESPN2 or ESPNU, and the consolation game taking place at 11 a.m. on ESPNU or ESPN3. New Mexico returns four starters from a team that went 29-6 and was a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while UAB returns four starters for second-year coach Jerod Haase, paced by All-CUSA forward Rod Rucker, who averaged 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Nebraska will meet one of the remaining four teams – Clemson, Davidson Georgia or Temple – on the final day of competition on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Nebraska returns home for a matchup with Northern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 30, the first matchup between the two programs since 1991, before embarking on a challenging December slate, which includes three NCAA Tournament teams.
The Huskers open the month against defending ACC champion Miami, as the Hurricanes visits Pinnacle Bank Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 4, for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Hurricanes went 29-7 last season, winning both the regular-season and tournament titles for the first time in program history, before falling to Marquette in the Sweet 16.
On Sunday, Dec. 8, the Huskers will renew their annual series with Creighton. The Bluejays have moved to the new Big East Conference, bit return four starters, including two-time All-American Doug McDermott. The Huskers look to extend their series lead, which is 25-21 entering the 2013-14 season.
The Huskers return home for a pair of games sandwiched around final exams. On Saturday, Dec. 14, the Huskers welcome Arkansas State to Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Red Wolves went 19-12 last season and won the Sun Belt Western Division. On Saturday, Dec. 21, the Huskers play host to The Citadel in the first meeting between the programs since 1992.
The Huskers wrap up non-conference action on the road, traveling to Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 28, in the first game of a home-and-home series. The Bearcats are coming off three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and welcome back leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick, who averaged 17.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
The start times and television information for the remainder of Nebraska’s home games will be announced later this summer.