The Valparaiso University men’s basketball team unveiled its non-conference schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 season on Wednesday, highlighted by at least three games against top-40 RPI teams from a year ago.
“The objective for our program is to schedule more aggressively and put ourselves in a position where we can compete for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Matt Lottich. “We feel like we have a schedule this year which will challenge us with a number of games against high-level opponents.”
Valpo’s first top-40 RPI opponent from last year comes as part of the previously announced Myrtle Beach Invitational Nov. 15-18, as Valpo opens the tournament against Western Kentucky, which advanced to the semifinals of the NIT last season, Nov. 15 on ESPNU.
Valpo will face either West Virginia, which finished last season with an RPI of 24 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, or Monmouth in its second game in Myrtle Beach, and then will close the tournament against one of Wake Forest, UCF, Saint Joseph’s or Cal State Fullerton.
The Crusaders will also take on West Virginia in a non-bracketed game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational, heading to Morgantown on Nov. 24. This leaves open the possibility that Valpo could face the Mountaineers twice in a nine-day span.
Valpo’s final top-40 opponent from last season comes in its final game before Christmas, as the Crusaders trek down to College Station, Texas to face Texas A&M on Dec. 19. That game will be the first meeting between Valpo and the Aggies in over 30 years.
Valpo will host an exhibition game against Indianapolis to open the season on Nov. 1 at the ARC before starting the regular season Nov. 6 against Concordia University Chicago. The trip to Myrtle Beach is followed by a Nov. 21 home game versus SIUE.
Following the team’s trip to West Virginia, a flight to Las Vegas awaits, as Valpo plays at UNLV as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge on Nov. 28. The Crusaders then host UC Riverside on Dec. 2 and High Point on Dec. 4.
The nation’s capital is Valpo’s next non-conference stop, as Valpo plays at George Washington in a rematch of the 2016 NIT championship game on Dec. 8. Following final exams, Valpo continues its in-state series with Ball State by welcoming the Cardinals to the ARC on Dec. 17 before its trip to College Station. The non-conference schedule wraps up on Dec. 29, as the Crusaders host Purdue Northwest.
The Missouri Valley Conference will be announced by the conference office next month. Including the conference schedule, Valpo will play at least nine games this season against top-100 RPI teams from last year, including three at home, and 18 against top-150 RPI teams, including seven at home, versus just two years ago, when Valpo played just four top-100 opponents from the previous year and only 11 games against top-150 opponents, including just three at home.