GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota Director of Athletics Brian Faison and head men’s basketball coach Brian Jones announced the 2009-10 men’s basketball schedule on Tuesday. The Fighting Sioux will embark on their first season as Great West Conference members with 12 league contests included among their 30-game regular season slate.
“This is the best home schedule we have put together since we have been here as a staff,” Jones said. “Northern Iowa is coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance. Fans will recognize Northern Colorado from the old NCC days and Green Bay is a talented team from the Horizon League.
“We are excited to get these quality programs in our own building. Plus, we start building some new rivalries with the Great West schools. It will be a challenge with a lot of new faces going through it for the first time, but we are excited to play some established DI programs to see where they are at and to see where we want to be.”
Besides playing host to six Great West Conference members, the Sioux will entertain five other Division I squads at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. In all, the Sioux will play 15 games on their home court, including their first action of the season in an exhibition against Bemidji State on Nov. 8.
UND will open the regular season at the University of Montana Tournament on Nov. 13-15. The three-day, three-game event will feature a round-robin format with the host Grizzlies, the Fighting Sioux, Boise State and Loyola-Marymount all scheduled to participate.
The Sioux will then return home to the Betty to begin a four-game homestand on Nov. 21. UND will entertain three Division I teams during this stretch, including UMKC (11/21), Northern Colorado (11/27) and Green Bay (11/29). The Sioux will also face Waldorf College on Nov. 24.
Next up is another preseason tournament for the Sioux as the squad returns to the road for a pair of games at the Drake Iowa Realty Invitational. Joining the Sioux and host Bulldogs in this four-team field will be SIU-Edwardsville and UT-Arlington.
UND will return home to play Mayville State for the fourth-consecutive season on Dec. 8 before going back on the road to play IPFW for the first time in school history on Dec. 12.
Highlighting the non-conference home slate will be a Dec. 19 match-up against Northern Iowa – the reigning Missouri Valley Conference champions and NCAA Tournament participant. An old NCC-rival, the Panthers are led by former UND standout and reigning MVC Coach of the Year Ben Jacobson, who captained the 1993 and 1994 Sioux clubs.
The first of two Big 12 road games is next on the agenda for the Fighting Sioux. The team’s last contest before the Christmas break will be in Ames, Iowa as the club takes on Iowa State on Dec. 22. Former UND assistant coach Greg McDermott (1989-94) is in his third season as the head coach for the Cyclones.
After a home tilt with St. Olaf on Dec. 29, the Fighting Sioux begin their longest road trip of the season at Northern Illinois on Jan. 2. The contest with the Huskies will be the first of four away from Grand Forks to start the New Year. A return trip from a season ago to Texas A&M on Jan. 5 is the final non-conference tilt before Great West Conference play begins for the Sioux. The Aggies were an NCAA Tournament at-large selection a season ago.
The Sioux will open the Great West Conference era at Utah Valley on Jan. 14 before capping off the four-game road trip against rival South Dakota at the Dakota Dome on Jan. 16. The Coyotes and Sioux will square off again the next Saturday on Jan. 23 at the Betty in what will be UND’s first Great West game on its home court.
The return home will be brief for the Sioux as the team returns to Texas for the Lone Star swing in Great West play. A match-up at Texas Pan-America on Jan. 28 will be followed by a trip to Houston Baptist to face the Huskies on Jan. 30.
UND will conclude this three-game road trip with a non-conference tilt at SIU-Edwardsville on Feb. 7. The contest with the Cougars will be the first of home-and-home between the two Division I transition teams. SIUE will play the Sioux in Grand Forks on Feb. 18.
That contest will be the third of a four-game homestand that will also feature a trio of Great West and two first-time opponents for the Fighting Sioux (New Jersey Tech, 2/11; Chicago State, 2/13; Utah Valley, 2/20).
UND will then take to the road for the final time during the regular season to return conference games at Chicago State (2/25) and NJIT (2/27). The Great West Texas schools will then close out the regular season at the Betty on March 4 (Houston Baptist) and March 6 (UTPA).
The Great West Championship is slated for March 10-13 in Orem, Utah. Utah Valley will serve as the host for the postseason tournament that will feature the seven league squads.
Schedule notes: The Sioux will be playing five first-time opponents during the 2009-10 season (Houston Baptist, IPFW, Loyola-Marymount, Utah Valley and Waldorf College) … Two of those five teams are members of the Great West Conference and will play the Sioux twice … UND will play two teams that advanced to the 2009 NCAA Tournament (Northern Iowa and Texas A&M) … The match-up with former NCC rival Northern Iowa will be the first between the two clubs since Feb. 17, 1978 … The Sioux lead the all-time series with the Panthers 47-32 and have won 16 of 17 overall … New Jersey Tech will be the first school from the state of New Jersey that UND will play … The Sioux will play five games against schools from the state of Texas this season … Prior to this season, UND had only played six games against Lone Star State teams in its hardwood history.
– Go Sioux –