AKRON, Ohio – A trip to Puerto Rico, a strong 18-game home slate and the defense of its Mid-American Conference Regular Season championship highlight the 2012-13 schedule for the Akron men's basketball team, ninth-year head coach Keith Dambrot announced on Thursday.
The Zips will face 11 opponents that played in the postseason in 2012 and eight teams that won 20-plus games, with the potential for both numbers to grow based on how the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Bracket unfolds.
"Last season, our non-conference schedule ranked 56th in the nation. I believe this year's non-conference schedule is even better, the best in program history," Dambrot said. "Most people recognize the high major teams, but we will face a lot of programs that compete at a very high level, year in and year out, and regularly play in and win games in the NCAA Tournament. We will face several teams that will either start the season in the top-25 or will earn a spot in the rankings at some point."
Akron will open the season with two exhibition contests, playing host to Tiffin on Oct. 31 and Malone on Nov. 3. The regular season kicks off on Friday, Nov. 9, when UA travels to Conway, S.C., to face CIT participant Coastal Carolina. UA will play host to John Carroll in its home opener on Nov. 12.
The Zips then head to San Juan for the 2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off Nov. 15-18. UA will face Oklahoma State on Nov. 15 at 10:30 a.m. ET in the first round of the tournament. The game will air live on ESPNU. A win would advance the squad to a meeting with the winner of the Tennessee-UNC Asheville contest. Other schools in the tournament include NC State, Penn State, Providence and UMass.
UA will have a break for the Thanksgiving holiday before playing host to NIT Quarterfinalist Middle Tennessee on Dec. 2. The squad will then hit the road for a two-game road trip at NCAA Tournament participants Creighton (Dec. 9) and Detroit (Dec. 15).
The non-conference slate will conclude with five-straight home games, including Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 18), Cleveland State (Dec. 23), Texas Southern (Dec. 27), Princeton (Dec. 30) and Coppin State (Jan. 2).
Akron opens the defense of its first MAC Regular Season title on Wed., Jan. 9, against Western Michigan at Rhodes Arena. The Zips close out a three-game stretch against MAC West programs with a trip to Northern Illinois (Jan. 12) and a home contest against Ball State (Jan. 16).
The Zips face off against Kent State in the first of two regular-season matchups in the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge, traveling to Kent, Ohio, on Sat., Jan. 19. The squad will stay on the road, traveling to Toledo to face the Rockets on Wed., Jan. 23.
UA returns home for three of its next four games, beginning with a matchup against Buffalo on Jan. 26. The Zips then travel to Bowling Green (Jan. 30) before returning home to the JAR to play host to Ohio (Feb. 2) and Central Michigan (Feb. 5).
The February slate continues with two-straight road games – at Miami (Ohio) on Feb. 9 and at defending MAC West champion Eastern Michigan on Feb. 13 – before the Zips return home for a return visit by BGSU on Feb. 16.
Akron will step away from conference play for the 2013 Sears BracketBusters match-up at Rhodes Arena. Akron's opponent, as well as the date and game time, will be announced at a later date.
The final four regular season games will see the Zips travel to Ohio (Feb. 27) and Buffalo (March 2) before closing out the slate at home against Miami (Ohio) (March 5) and Kent State (March 8 or 9).
The MAC Tournament will be held March 11-16, with on campus sites playing host to the first round and Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena playing host to the remaining rounds.
The Zips enter the 2012-13 season as the defending MAC Regular Season champions for the first time since joining the league in 1992 and advanced to a league-record sixth-straight MAC Tournament title game (second-longest active streak in the nation). UA appeared in the NIT for the fifth time in program history, the third under Dambrot, and played in the postseason for the fifth-straight season, falling 76-74 at Northwestern on March 13.
UA is just one of seven teams to have posted at least 22 victories in each of the last seven seasons, joined by the likes of Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Utah State. Over the last eight seasons, all under Dambrot, the Zips have posted 184 victories, tied for 31st nationally among all Division I teams.