After putting FGCU on the map with a captivating postseason run, turning Fort Myers into Dunk City and unveiling the best-kept secret in the country last year, the men's basketball team announced its 2013-14 non-conference schedule this week highlighted by two national TV appearances.
Led by first-year coach Joe Dooley, the Eagles will play 13 non-league games including four on the road against BCS teams and compete in the previously-announced Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic leading up to Christmas.
"I'm very pleased with the balance of our non-conference schedule," Dooley commented. "We face a number of challenging opponents who will prepare us well for the rigors of the Atlantic Sun Conference. We're also fortunate to have multiple national TV appearances in which to showcase our program and University."
FGCU opens its season in primetime on Friday, Nov. 8, at Nebraska when it takes part in the first men's game at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The game will be televised nationally on the Big 10 Network and will christen the Cornhuskers' new $179-million facility.
The Huskers went 15-18 last year and returns three starters from a team that claimed five Big 10 victories. The meeting will be the second in three years between the teams with Nebraska posteing a 51-50 win over FGCU in 2011.
Following their trip to the Midwest, the Eagles unveil their Sweet 16 banner as part of "Breakfast at the Beach" when they match up against Hartford in a 7 a.m. tip on Tuesday, Nov. 12, as part of ESPN's 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon. The game, which will be shown live on ESPN2, is FGCU's second national TV appearance in as many contests and the first ever at Alico Arena. Hartford returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from a squad which tied a program record for regular-season wins (17).
A visit to Furman on Friday, Nov. 15, awaits the Eagles after their national appearances to commence the season. The Paladins return four starters and welcome new head coach Niko Medved after winning just seven games a year ago.
Two home games against local, non-Division I opponents follow the trip to Furman with Eckerd coming to Alico Arena on Monday, Nov. 18, and Ave Maria on Saturday, Nov. 23. Eckerd won 20 games a season ago, while Ave Maria, which claimed 23 victories last year, mark the third straight year the two teams have faced each other.
The Eagles then head back out on the road to face 2013 NCAA Tournament participant and ACC member N.C. State on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
FGCU returns home to Alico to battle its second-straight NCAA Tournament team from last year when the Iona Gaels visit for a Dec. 1 tipoff. Iona won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season and was seeded, like FGCU, No. 15 before falling to Ohio State in the Second Round.
After a six-day break, its a return trip to Florida International on Dec. 7.
The final four non-league games are part of the Las Vegas Classic.