The Valparaiso University men’s basketball program announced its non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2017-18 season on Tuesday afternoon, a 13-game slate which features six contests against programs which advanced to the postseason last year.
“We are extremely excited about our non-conference schedule,” said Valpo head coach Matt Lottich. “I love the Thanksgiving tournament in Savannah and the MVC/Mountain West Challenge where we will have the opportunity to play against other top mid-majors. Playing against two local Big 10 teams that have NCAA tournament aspirations is just the type of challenge our young team is looking forward to as well.”
The highlights of the non-conference schedule come on back-to-back Thursdays in December, as the Crusaders will travel to Purdue on Thursday, Dec. 7 and then face Northwestern at Allstate Arena on Dec. 14. The matchup with Purdue – which won 27 games, claimed the Big 10 regular season title and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last year – is Valpo’s first meeting with the Boilermakers since 2010. Meanwhile, the Crusaders will take on Northwestern – coming off of a 24-win season and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history – for the first time in 38 years.
The schedule also features a number of quality mid-major opponents, three of which come by way of the Savannah Invitational. On Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 24, Valpo will take on Kent State – 22-game winners and MAC Tournament champions last season - in Savannah, Ga. The Crusaders then close out tournament play the next night, Nov. 25, versus UNC Wilmington, which captured the CAA regular season and tournament titles as part of a 29-win season last year.
Prior to traveling to Savannah, the Crusaders will host a pair of games as part of the MTE at the ARC – the second of which will be a matchup with Samford on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The Bulldogs won 20 games last year and earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Valpo will face another team coming off a CIT appearance on Saturday, Dec. 9 as well, traveling to Muncie to face Ball State – 21-game winners last year – while the Crusaders will host Utah State at the ARC as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
The schedule opens with five appearances at the ARC in a 19-day stretch, kicking off with an exhibition game against Robert Morris (Ill.) on Thursday, Nov. 2. The Crusaders open the regular season Friday, Nov. 10 versus North Park and host Trinity Christian on Monday, Nov. 13 before hitting the road for the first time to take on SIUE on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Southeastern Louisiana will be the first opponent for the Crusaders as part of the Savannah Invitational, as the Lions visit the ARC on Sunday, Nov. 19.
“I feel we have put together a schedule that will allow us to continue to build our team throughout the season,” said Lottich. “Like I've said publicly before, our team will get better throughout the year. Four of our first five games will be at home, which is great for a young team.”
The non-conference schedule wraps up with a California road trip just prior to Christmas. The two-game journey begins on Monday, Dec. 18 at Santa Clara and wraps two nights later at UC Riverside.
The Missouri Valley Conference schedule will be released at a later date.
“We have a competitive bunch of young men that love each other and their University and we cannot wait to take the floor this upcoming season,” said Lottich.