GRAND FORKS, N.D. - There are several new changes that North Dakota men's basketball fans will see when glancing at the team's 2012-13 schedule released on Monday by sixth-year head coach Brian Jones.
For starters, there will be 20 asterisks littering the schedule, which signify a Big Sky Conference game. That is twice as many conference games as the team played in 2011-12 when UND won its second straight Great West Conference Tournament title.
There will only be 10 non-conference games, six of which will occur on the road, while UND fans will be treated to four at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
One of those non-conference games will be unique as UND will be a first-time participant in the Bracket Busters series. The Green and White will play that game on the road (Feb. 23), but will host a game in 2013-14, while also hosting the team that they play in a separate game.
"What we are trying to do each year is get a stronger and stronger non-league schedule, just to prepare us for where we are today and that is the Big Sky Conference," Jones said. "We're going to be tested early, but I think that is the way our guys want it and our staff wants it."
Despite those changes, fans will also see some familiar regional rivalries that have been rekindled over the past several seasons, including Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
UND will open the season with four of its first five games on the road in November. That stretch begins with a clash at Kansas State on Nov. 9 and after its lone home game of the month versus Crown College on Nov. 14, UND will play games at Northern Iowa (Nov. 17), at Hawai'i (Nov. 20) and at South Dakota State (Nov. 28).
December is a little easier on travel with four of six games slated for UND's home court. The month begins with a home tilt against UMKC before UND will take the 80-mile trek south to face long-time rival North Dakota State at the Fargodome. This will be the third-straight season these teams have met with each winning on their respective home courts during that stretch.
Big Sky play also begins for UND in December. The first official league game is at Southern Utah on Dec. 17 and will be followed by the first home Big Sky game versus Northern Colorado on Dec. 21.
"I really like the consistency of our schedule," Jones added. "We really try to do a good job of scheduling (similar) opponents that will get us ready for Big Sky play. We have a veteran team and this is the type of team that can handle a schedule like (this)."
The month concludes with what will be the team's final non-conference game besides the Bracket Buster tilt as Bowling Green pays a visit to the BESC on Dec. 28.
UND begins a stretch of 15-straight league games at Idaho State (Jan. 3) - a team that the Green and White split a home-and-home series with during 2011-12.
UND went 2-2 against Big Sky teams during its 17-15 record last season, falling at Sacramento State and defeating Montana in overtime at home as well. The trip to Grand Forks for Montana was the first since 1963, while Montana State has not played in town since 1958. Those two clubs visit the BESC on Jan. 10 and Jan. 12, respectively.
"I'm very excited about having a 20-game league schedule that will bring a consistency of teams and some rivalries that as coaches, players and fans we can start to get to know and know what these teams are about," Jones said.
The Big Sky will offer four first-time opponents for UND as the Green and White have never played Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Southern Utah or Weber State on the hardwood before this season.
The Big Sky Tournament will start March 14 with the top seven teams advancing to play on the home court of the regular-season champion and No. 1 seed.
Single-game tickets for University of North Dakota men's and women's basketball will go on sale to the general public on Friday, Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. Champions Club members can participate in a pre-sale for single-game tickets on Thursday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Season ticket packages also remain available for men's and women's basketball. Prices for all single-game tickets range from $7.00 to $12.00 for adults and $5.00 for youth tickets. Tickets can be purchased at the UND Box Office at Ralph Engelstad Arena, or via Ticketmaster.com.
Fans wishing to purchase group tickets (10 or more) can do so by contacting UND's Director of Ticket Sales, Dexter Albrecht, at 701.777.4582.
UND students receive free tickets by presenting a valid UND student ID.
2012-13 Schedule By The Numbers
- UND will play seven first-time opponents during the 2012-13 season, including four Big Sky members (Crown College, Presentation College, Bowling Green, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Weber State).
- UND's combined all-time record against the other six Big Sky Schools is 56-36. Forty of those wins have come against Northern Colorado (40-19) - a former North Central Conference rival.
- This will be the third straight season UND and NDSU after a six-year break in the rivalry. UND leads 158-127.
- Montana State returns to the schedule for the first time since the 1963-64 season. The Bobcats own a slight 8-7 advantage in the all-time series.
- Bowling Green will be the first Mid-American Conference team to play in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND is 0-4 all-time against MAC opponents.
- The only other meeting North Dakota and Hawai'i occurred in 1949 and the teams met in the NAIB National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. UND won that game 70-53.
- Go UND -