Valparaiso men's basketball head coach Bryce Drew announced his squad's schedule for the 2013-2014 campaign on Tuesday, a slate which includes nine non-league games against 20-win teams from a season ago, five of which will be at the ARC, and 18 games in all against teams which went to the postseason last year.
The regular season opens on Friday night, Nov. 8 as the Crusaders welcome Murray State, which won 21 games last year, to the ARC. Prior to the game that evening, the championship banners representing last season's Horizon League regular season and tournament champions will be raised into the rafters. Two days later, Valpo will take on North Park at the ARC.
Valpo then hits the road for three games in a seven-day stretch against teams that won at least 20 games and went to the postseason last year. The first game comes at Big Ten foe Illinois, an NCAA Tournament team from last year which won 23 games, on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Four days later, Valpo plays at Ohio, which won 24 games and advanced to the NIT last season. The road trip culminates at Evansville, which won 21 games and finished its season in the semifinals of the CIT.
The Crusaders then return home for four consecutive games, starting a stretch of six out of seven games at the ARC. On Saturday, Nov. 23, James Madison, an NCAA Tournament team from last year which won 21 games, comes to town, and three days later, 20-win UCF visits the ARC. Valpo will welcome Mercer, which won 24 games and defeated Tennessee in the NIT last season, on Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 29, and the next day, the Crusaders will take on Cincinnati Christian.
Valpo hits the road to take on in-state rival Ball State on Wednesday, Dec. 4 before returning home for two more games. The Crusaders will take on Saint Louis, which won 28 games last season and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, on Saturday, Dec. 7, and then one week later, Valpo will host Loyola Marymount.
Prior to Christmas, the Crusaders will fly down to Orlando, Fla. to take part in the Jackson Hewitt UCF Holiday Classic. Valpo will open play in Orlando against Southeastern on Saturday evening, Dec. 21 before taking on host UCF on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 22. Following the holiday, the Crusaders will close their non-league slate at East Tennessee State on Sunday, Dec. 29.
After the calendar turns to 2014, Valpo will commence the Horizon League slate, a double round-robin schedule against the other eight league squads, six of which participated in postseason play last season. The slate kicks off at home against UIC on Thursday, Jan. 2, and is highlighted by live games on ESPNU at home against Wright State (Friday, Jan. 10) and Detroit (Friday, Feb. 7).
Prior to the Crusaders' game against Green Bay on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Valpo will officially retire the #24 jersey and raise it to the rafters of the ARC to honor both current head coach Bryce Drew, as well as Bruce Lindner, who holds Valpo records for single-season points scored and career points per game. Valpo's matchup against Youngstown State on Saturday, Feb. 22 will feature the annual Hall of Fame ceremony at halftime, while Senior Night will be held Saturday, Mar. 1 as the Crusaders take on Cleveland State.
The Horizon League Championship will be contested Mar. 4-11, with the league's regular season champion hosting the second round and semifinals and the best remaining seed hosting the championship game, live on ESPN at 6 p.m. CT. The winner of the league tournament will earn the league's automatic bid into the 2014 NCAA Tournament.