The 2017-18 University of Cincinnati men's basketball schedule announced Friday includes a challenging nonconference slate and 18 games in the American Athletic Conference. Overall, the schedule features at least 23 games on national television and potentially 15 contests against teams that appeared in postseason play a year ago.
The Bearcats return their top three scorers from last season's squad that achieved the second-most wins in school history: posting a 30-6 overall mark, finishing second in the American Athletic Conference with a 16-2 ledger, and recording its seventh consecutive appearance at the NCAA Tournament.
"We have put together maybe the best non-league schedule in the history of Cincinnati basketball with some tremendous opponents and historic programs," head coach Mick Cronin said. "Our team is working hard every day and our two senior leaders (forwards Gary Clark and Kyle Washington) are doing a great job for us. Obviously, coming off a 30-win season and returning our front line is exciting. We hope to continue our great basketball tradition that so many of our fans and former players have built through tremendous support and effort."
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Cincinnati will play its home schedule at BB&T Arena in Highland Heights, Kentucky, while Fifth Third Arena undergoes an $87 million renovation prior to its reopening for the 2018-19 campaign. It marks the first time the Bearcats have played their home games off campus since the 1988-89 season when the recently closed Cincinnati Gardens served as UC's host venue.
The 117th season of Cincinnati basketball tips off against Savannah State (Nov. 10 on ESPN3) at BB&T Arena, followed with home games against Western Carolina (Nov. 13 on ESPN3) and Coppin State (Nov. 16 on ESPN3). Other nonconference home matchups include Alabama State (Nov. 27 on ESPNU); Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 19 on ESPN3) and Cleveland State (Dec. 21 on ESPN3).
The Bearcats will spend the week of Thanksgiving at the Cayman Islands Classic, Nov. 20-22, in George Town, Cayman Islands. UC plays Buffalo (Nov. 20; TV is TBA) in the first round; before competing against Richmond or UAB (Nov. 21; TV is TBA) in the second round. The tournaments concludes with a matchup against either Iowa, Louisiana, South Dakota State or Wyoming (Nov. 22; TV is TBA) on the third day.
A string of contests to start December will challenge the Bearcats. UC heads to city-rival Xavier (Dec. 2; FS1) for the annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout. A week later UC battles Florida (Dec. 9; TV is TBA) at the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, New Jersey, before playing host to Mississippi State (Dec. 12 on ESPN2) and traveling to UCLA (Dec. 16; TV is TBA).
The Bearcats' fifth season of play in the American Athletic Conference begins at home against long-time rival Memphis (New Year's Eve on ESPNU). UC battles 2016-17 conference and league tournament champions SMU at BB&T Arena (Jan. 7 on ESPN2) and in Dallas (Feb. 11 on ESPN).
Wichita State joins The American in 2017-18 and visits BB&T Arena on Feb. 18 on ESPN. The Bearcats and Shockers close out regular-season play Mar. 4 in Wichita, Kansas. The contest will be televised by CBS.
The annual hard-nosed battles with UConn are slated for February in Storrs, Connecticut, (Feb. 3 on ESPN or ESPN2) and at BB&T Arena (Feb. 22 on ESPN or ESPN2). The Bearcats wrap up their home schedule on Feb. 25 against Tulsa on CBS Sports Network. It marks the earliest regular-season home finale for Cincinnati since 2000-01.
Other league home games include ECU (Jan. 20 on ESPNews); Temple (Jan. 24 on CBS Sports Network); Houston (Jan. 31 on CBS Sports Network) and UCF (Feb. 6 on CBS Sports Network). Other conference road games include trips to Temple (Jan. 4 on ESPN or ESPN2); USF (Jan. 13 on ESPNews); UCF (Jan. 16 on CBS Sports Network); Memphis (Jan. 27 on CBS Sports Network); Houston (Feb. 15 on CBS Sports Network) and Tulane (Mar. 1 on ESPN2).
UC will play a pair of exhibition games beginning with a visit to Louisville to take on NCAA Division II power Bellarmine (Nov. 1) at Freedom Hall before welcoming Embry-Riddle (Nov. 5 on BEARCATS TV stream) to BB&T Arena. The 2018 American Championship (Mar. 8-11) will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.