Sioux Falls, SD (KWSN) - A road exhibition against Creighton University and a showdown versus the 2014 NCAA Division II national champions highlight the 2014-15 University of Sioux Falls men's basketball schedule, which was released Wednesday by head coach Chris Johnson in a press release.
"As always, we try to put together a challenging schedule and we feel we've done that again this year," said Johnson, who is in his seventh year at the helm of the Cougar program. "This year will be another difficult schedule that will be great preparation for the conference season. We are excited to play Creighton, travel to Miami Shores and always look forward to the in-state rivalry games.”
The Cougars will face five NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in Central Missouri, Missouri Southern State, Barry, Winona State and Minnesota State.
The Cougars will first hit the hardwood on Nov. 7 when they play an exhibition game against the Creighton Bluejays at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. Creighton went 27-8 in 2013-14 while finishing second in the BIG EAST and advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season. USF will then participate in the Sanford Pentagon Basketball Showcase on Nov. 15-16. The Cougars open tournament play against reigning NCAA champion University of Central Missouri on Nov. 15, which will also serve as the Cougars’ regular season opener. The Mules went 30-5 overall in 2014 and defeated West Liberty 84-77 in the NCAA title game for their first championship in 30 years. The Cougars close out the Sanford Pentagon Showcase against a Missouri Southern State squad that went 25-6 last year before falling to the Mules in the NCAA Division II Central Region semifinals. Dakota State visits the Stewart Center on Nov. 24 for the 76th-ever meeting between the Trojans and the Cougars. DSU finished with a 15-15 mark in 2013-14 (6-2 NSAA).
The Cougars travel to the Sunshine State later that week for play in the Barry University Thanksgiving Classic. USF will face tournament host Barry on Nov. 28 and Young Harris College on Nov. 29. The Barry Buccaneers went 19-9 in 2013-14 and have made four appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament, including an overtime loss to Delta State in last season’s opening round. Young Harris College (17-9 in 2013-14) was in their provisional year of the NCAA Division II three-year membership process last season and was not eligible for the Peach Belt Conference tournament.
Coach Johnson added, “Hopefully the nonconference portion of the schedule will harden our basketball team and prepare it for the unbelievable challenge of competing in the NSIC."
USF will open the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference slate Dec. 2 at Southwest Minnesota State (19-12, 14-8). They will next host Upper Iowa (16-14, 13-9) and NCAA Central Regiona participant Winona State University (26-8, 18-4) on Dec. 5-6 before hitting the road the following weekend for league games at Minot State (8-19, 4-18) and the University of Mary (7-21, 5-17).
The Cougars then return to Sioux Falls for a four-game homestand, hosting former GPAC foe Mount Marty (4-24, 2-18) on Dec. 16 and SMSU on Dec. 20 before taking a 13-day holiday break (Dec. 21-Jan. 1). USF resumes action at the Stewart Center with a Jan. 2 showdown against rival Augustana College (16-14, 12-10) before closing out weekend versus Wayne State (9-19, 5-17).
USF will face Winona State and Upper Iowa on the road Jan. 9-10 before hosting NSIC North opponents Minnesota State University Moorhead (21-8, 15-7) and Northern State University (18-11, 13-9) Jan. 16-17. The Cougars travel to the North Star State Jan. 23-24 for contests at Concordia-St. Paul (8-19, 5-17) and Minnesota State Mankato (30-5, 19-3). The Mavericks advanced to the second round of the 2013-14 NCAA Central Region tournament.
The Cougars close out the month of January at home against the University of Minnesota-Duluth (12-15, 10-12) and St. Cloud State (20-8, 15-7) Jan. 30-31. The Huskies defeated USF 86-75 in the opening round of the 2013-14 NSIC Tournament. USF plays its next four games on the road, starting at Minnesota Crookston (4-23, 1-21) and Bemidji State (18-9, 15-7) on Feb. 6-7 followed by road tilts at Wayne State and Augustana Feb. 13-14. The Cougars will conclude the conference season at home against Minnesota State and Concordia St. Paul Feb. 20-21.
The NSIC Tournament will be held Feb. 25-March 3 with the opening round held at the top four seeds in both the NSIC North and South divisions. The final three rounds will be held at the Sanford Pentagon.
USF posted a 15-12 overall record in 2013-14, including a 12-10 mark in the NSIC. Coach Chris Johnson became USF's 22nd head coach in 2008 and owns a career coaching record of 132-86 (116-71 at USF).
Courtesy: USF Sports information