CORPUS CHRISTI - Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will play nine games against teams that advanced to last year's postseason as part of the 2011-12 men's basketball schedule, head coach Willis Wilson announced today. The team will host 12 games this season, including 11 at the American Bank Center.
"This is an exciting and challenging schedule for my first year at the helm of the program," Wilson said. "Thanks to the commitment from our administration, we have several top-notch teams coming to Corpus Christi and it should be thrilling for our fan base. We're looking forward to seeing large, loud crowds to cheer on our team throughout what should be a fun season."
The Islanders play five games against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams (Texas A&M, West Virginia, Utah State, UTSA twice) and four against squads that took part in the NIT a year ago (Oklahoma State, Missouri State, McNeese State and Bethune-Cookman). In non-conference play, Big 12 foe Texas Tech, 30-win squad Utah State, former Islanders coach Ronnie Arrow's South Alabama team and Denver will each pay a visit to the American Bank Center.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will also take part in the Las Vegas Classic this year, run by iBN Sports, who also heads up the Las Vegas Invitational that the Islanders participated in last year. Wilson's squad will play on-campus road games against West Virginia and Missouri State in the Classic's opening rounds, then will play Bethune-Cookman and either Kennesaw State or Tennessee Tech in Las Vegas.
New to the schedule is ESPN's Bracketbusters, slated for the weekend of Feb. 17-19. The event pits teams from mid-major conferences against one another with the intention of building the school's postseason resumé. The opponent for the Islanders' road game in the event will be determined approximately three weeks before the contest.
The Islanders open the season on Friday, Nov. 11, at Oklahoma State for a 7 p.m. contest. The Cowboys have won all seven historical meetings with Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, including a 68-58 win in Stillwater last year. The following Monday, Nov. 14, will be the Islanders' home opener, as newly-selected Western Athletic Conference member Denver comes to the American Bank Center for a 7 p.m. affair. It will be the third matchup against the Pioneers in school history, with each team winning a home game during the 2001-02 season.
Next up is a "Turkey Tuesday" matchup against Utah State on Tuesday, Nov. 22. The game will be a doubleheader at the ABC, as the Islanders women face Iona at 5 p.m. with the men's game against the Aggies to follow. USU had a stellar 2010-11 season, going 30-4 and finishing 18th in the Ratings Percentage Index. Just after Thanksgiving, the Islanders face the Aggies of Texas A&M up the road in College Station, for a 3 p.m. contest on Saturday, Nov. 26.
December starts with a bang, as Texas Tech and new coach Billy Gillespie come to the Coastal Bend for a 7 p.m. affair on Thursday, Dec. 1. The Islanders are 1-3 against the Big 12 foe all-time. After a road game at Houston on Saturday, Dec. 3, the team will take an 11-day furlough for final exams. The start of winter break comes with a thrill as Arrow returns to the ABC for the first time since leading the Islanders to the 2007 NCAA Tournament. It is the first meeting between USA and Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.
The Islanders close out 2011 with a return trip to Houston, as Coach Wilson will face off with his alma mater, Rice. The contest is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 28, at Tudor Fieldhouse. The team also has two non-conference road games in February, with a matchup at Savannah State on Feb. 6 and the Bracketbusters contest the weekend of Feb. 17-19.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will open Southland Conference play with a Jan. 4 contest against Lamar at the American Bank Center. Other home conference opponents for the Islanders are McNeese State, UT Arlington (Dugan Wellness Center), Texas State, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, UTSA and Central Arkansas. The Islanders' conference road slate includes contests at UTSA, Southeastern Louisiana, SHSU, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Texas State, SFA and UTA.
The Southland Conference Tournament returns to the Merrill Center in Katy, Texas, for the fifth straight year. The men's portion of the event kicks off on Wednesday, March 7, with the championship game to be played on Saturday, March 10. The Southland Tournament champion will earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Dates and times are subject to change, so check GoIslanders.com for all the latest information. Fans can also get the latest information via Twitter (@Go_Islanders) and Facebook (Islanders Athletics).