KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island's 2018-19 men's basketball non-conference schedule features seven teams that played in national postseason tournaments last year, including five that qualified for the 2018 NCAA Championship.
"We are very excited to open the David Cox era with our 2018 men's basketball non-conference season," Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn said. "Having at least five games – and potentially seven – against postseason teams from last season, I believe we have set ourselves up to be considered for an at-large selection once again if we take care of business."
The Rams welcome Conference USA power Middle Tennessee State to the Ryan Center on Dec. 30. With 81 victories and two NCAA Championship appearances in the last three seasons, the Blue Raiders have established themselves as the class of their conference in recent years. An upset overtime loss to Southern Miss in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament last season prevented a three-peat of tournament titles for the Blue Raiders, who cracked the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in program history late last season.
"We will face a number of teams who experienced significant success last season," Cox said. "It will be a very competitive non-conference schedule that we are excited about. The caliber of teams we face in the first half of the season will have our team well prepared for Atlantic 10 play."
Also coming to the Ryan Center will be 2018 NIT participant Harvard (Nov. 16). Harvard has won 18 games each of the last two seasons. Other non-conference home dates include games against in-state rivals Bryant and Brown. The Rams open the season against Bryant on Nov. 6, then host the Bears on Nov. 28.
The Rams will honor their return game of a home-and-home series with College of Charleston, the defending CAA champions. Rhody's first road contest will be at Charleston on Nov. 13, as the Rams face a Cougar squad that qualified for the NCAA Championship and ended 2017-18 ranked No. 57 in RPI.
Rhode Island's annual game against in-state rival Providence will be Dec. 1 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center. The Rams will be looking to make it two wins in a row over the Friars, who finished last season No. 32 in RPI and earned an NCAA at-large bid. Rhody heads to the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. for a game against Holy Cross Dec. 8.
A pair of in season events at neutral sites will help Rhode Island's schedule. Rhode Island takes on 2018 Sweet 16 participant West Virginia to headline the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase presented by Citi. West Virginia ended last season ranked No. 27 in RPI and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship before falling to eventual national champion Villanova. The game will be played at Mohegan Sun on Dec. 16 as part of a tripleheader that also features Tulsa-Dayton and Drexel-Quinnipiac.
Rhode Island also will travel to Honolulu for three games at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic Dec. 22-25. The bracket for the tournament will be revealed later this summer, though the field includes 2018 NCAA Championship participants TCU (No. 26 RPI) and Bucknell (No. 80 RPI) as well as Charlotte, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana State and UNLV.
Two anticipated home games for the 2018-19 season have been altered. A home game against Alabama was shifted to the 2019-20 season in order to accommodate Rhode Island's opportunity to play West Virginia in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase.
"We had two games we thought we would be playing in the Ryan Center this season," Bjorn said. "We are very appreciative for the University of Alabama's willingness to work with us and push their return game off a year, allowing us to play West Virginia at the Mohegan Sun. We will return to Morgantown in the 2019-20 season."
Rhode Island also was slated to host Nevada after travelling to Reno for a game last season. The Wolf Pack, however, have decided to not return the game, instead exercising a buyout clause in the contract.
"We are disappointed in Nevada's decision to exercise its option within the contract to pay the buyout rather than return the game this year," Bjorn said. "We played a great game in Reno last year and planned to provide a similarly great event at the Ryan Center. We acknowledge it is Nevada's right to pay the buyout rather than return the game to URI this year. That said, it certainly wasn't in the spirit of the agreement we signed, but with that we will move on."
The Rams will host Division II Pace in an exhibition game on Oct. 25.
For ticket information, visit GoRhody.com, call 401-874-RAMS or visit the Ryan Center Box Office. Season ticket sales for the 2018-19 season have already exceeded the final ticket sales for the 2017-18 season.
2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule
Oct. 25 – Pace (exhibition)
Nov. 6 – Bryant
Nov. 16 – Harvard
Nov. 24 – Stony Brook
Nov. 28 – Brown
Dec. 30 – Middle Tennessee State
Nov. 13 – College of Charleston
Dec. 1 – Providence
Dec. 8 – Holy Cross (at the DCU Center)
Dec. 16 – West Virginia (Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase presented by Citi)
Dec. 22-25 – Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (3 games TBD)