GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota men's basketball coach Brian Jones announced his team's 11-game non-conference schedule on Wednesday, which features games against four fellow NCAA Tournament participants.
"We feel like this is by far our most challenging non-conference schedule to date," Jones said. "Each season our goal is to really challenge our guys with programs that are rich with tradition and who will prepare us for the rigors of the Big Sky. With so many new faces on our roster, we wanted to dive into the deep end from the start and not ease into the season with opponents that will not expose us to the things we need to improve upon before we enter league play.
"The Big Sky will be a veteran-heavy league and when you have multiple teams with roster continuity, this non-conference schedule will get us ready for a difficult and exciting league race."
An island getaway is up first for the reigning Big Sky Conference champions as the Fighting Hawks will head to Honolulu to take on Troy, Hawaii and Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic (Nov. 10-13). UND will open against Troy (Nov. 11), who is the reigning Sun Belt Conference champions and were also a No. 15 seed in last year's Big Dance.
Host Hawai'i (Nov. 12) will be the middle game of the three-game tournament and UND will play Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Nov. 13) in the finale. The Golden Lions will be the only first-time opponent for UND during the 2017-18 campaign. UND played at Hawai'i five seasons ago, falling to the Rainbow Warriors 71-66.
After returning from Hawai'i, the Fighting Hawks will travel south to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers on a Sunday afternoon. The tilt against Nebraska is slated for 1 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
UND will then have three-straight games on its home court at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center with a matchup vs. Northland College on Nov. 21 set for the team's home opener. Thanksgiving Weekend will see a former Great West Conference rival return to Grand Forks as Utah Valley will visit town for a Saturday afternoon affair on Nov. 25. The Fighting Hawks and Wolverines split six tilts as GWC foes. The Fighting Hawks will wrap up their first homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 28 against Presentation College.
Sophomore guard Marlon Stewart will get a chance to play his former team as Creighton and former UND assistant coach Greg McDermott are on the schedule for the first time since the 1975-76 season. The contest against the Blue Jays is slated for Tuesday, Dec. 5 in Omaha. McDermott's club went 25-10 last season and earned a No. 6 seed in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The game tips at 7 p.m. CT and will air on Fox Sports 2.
UND and NDSU will play their final home-and-home matchups as non-conference foes in 2017-18. The first matchup between the two in-state rivals is set for Grand Forks on Saturday, Dec. 9. The rematch is scheduled for Jan. 16 in Fargo. Both teams won by double figures on the opposing team's home court a season ago.
The final two games before Christmas will be on the road against teams that met in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City -- the same venue that UND made its Division I NCAA Tournament debut a season ago.
The first of those will be at South Dakota State on Tuesday, Dec. 12 as UND returns to Frost Arena where its last two games there have been decided by a combined three points. The Jackrabbits were the No. 16 seed in the West Region and fell to eventual National runner-up Gonzaga in the opening game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.
This will be the second time in three seasons that UND has taken on an NCAA Tournament finalist. The Fighting Hawks have not taken on Gonzaga since the 1972-73 season when the Bulldogs posted a 90-73 victory in Spokane.
All-time Records vs. 2016-17 Non-Conference Opponents
Nov. 10 | vs. Troy (0-1)
Nov. 12 | at Hawaii (1-1)
Nov. 13 | vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (First Meeting)
Nov. 19 | at Nebraska (1-2)
Nov. 21 | Northland College (1-0)
Nov. 25 | Utah Valley (3-3)
Nov. 28 | Presentation College (3-0)
Dec. 5 | at Creighton (3-9)
Dec. 9 | North Dakota State (160-133)
Dec. 12 | at South Dakota State (106-82)
Dec. 16 | at Gonzaga (0-4)
Jan. 16 | at North Dakota State (160-133)
-- UND --