Western Michigan Menís Basketball Releases Non-Conference Schedule
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins has announced the 2016 non-conference men’s basketball schedule which features 12 games as well as one exhibition. Highlights include three games at the ESPN Gildan Charleston Classic, where the Broncos will take on defending national champion Villanova, as well as a west coast trip that features Washington and UCLA.
Of the 12 official games, five are at home, four are on the road, and the three games in Charleston will be considered neutral site contests.
Western Michigan hosts neighboring Kalamazoo College in an exhibition Nov. 5 and officially begins the season with a home game against Marygrove on Nov. 11. The Broncos travel to Oakland for their first away game, Nov. 14, renewing a series with their in-state Horizon League counterparts.
The Charleston Classic, Nov. 17, 18 & 20, consists of three games over four days, with all games being aired on the ESPN family of networks. Western Michigan has the first game of the tournament, Thursday, Nov. 17 at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2 against Villanova. WMU will play either Wake Forest or UTEP on Friday (1:30/3:30p.m.) and an opponent to be announced on Nov. 20.
“We are really proud and honored to be part of another ESPN event,” said Hawkins. “This will give us an opportunity to see how we stack up early in the season against some of top teams in the country on a neutral court.”
WMU returns from Charleston for a pair of home games, hosting Central Arkansas (Nov. 26) before welcoming defending Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) champion and NCAA Tournament participant UNCW on Nov. 30. The Broncos host another tough CAA team 10 days later, bringing James Madison into University Arena, Dec. 10.
“We had two very close losses on the road last year at UNCW and James Madison,” Hawkins said. “Both are very good programs and this time we will have our crack at them on our home court with our fans behind us.”
Western Michigan revives a series with a second Horizon League opponent to start off December, facing Cleveland State on Dec. 7. The game will be played at Quicken Loans Arena which serves as the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as the annual Mid-American Conference basketball tournament in March.
“We have older guys that have experienced Quicken Loans Arena, but are also going to have eight freshmen this year. Getting those guys on the court in Cleveland and taking away some of the ‘wow factor’ should suit us well in March,” Hawkins said.
The Broncos embark on the west coast trip just before the holiday break, first stopping in senior Tucker Haymond’s hometown of Seattle, Wash., to face University of Washington on Dec. 18. From there, the Broncos head south to Los Angeles for a game against UCLA on Dec. 21. Western Michigan wraps up the non-conference slate at home against Alabama A&M on Dec. 29.
California is familiar territory for the Bronco coaching staff as Hawkins is a native of southern California. Hawkins also worked several camps at UCLA during the beginning of his coaching career and was a driver for legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. Current WMU assistant coach Larry Farmer played under Wooden at UCLA from 1970-73, winning three national championships, and was the head coach for the Bruins from 1981-84.
“Any time we can schedule a team in one of our player’s hometowns, especially with the distance like Tucker’s, it is special and we really try to do that,” Hawkins said. “Southern California is a soft spot for many of us coaches and UCLA is the most storied program in college basketball. They will have a good team this year.
“Every year we have been here we try and play a difficult non-conference schedule to try and help us prepare for the MAC and this year is no different,” Hawkins said.
11/5, Exhibition vs Kalamazoo College
11/11, vs. Marygrove
11/14, @ Oakland
11/17, vs. Villanova @ Gildan Charleston Classic
11/18, vs. Wake Forest or UTEP @ Gildan Charleston Classic
11/20, vs. TBA @ Gildan Charleston Classic
11/26, vs. Central Arkansas
11/30, vs. UNCW
12/7, vs. James Madison
12/10, @ Cleveland State (Quicken Loans Arena)
12/18, @ Washington
12/21, @ UCLA
12/29, vs. Alabama A&M