The Saint Louis University men’s basketball team released its 2012-‘13 schedule Thursday afternoon. Highlights from the 30-game slate include a home-and-home series against Atlantic 10 newcomer Butler, a New Year’s Eve game against New Mexico and the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in mid-November at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Billikens are scheduled to play against at least four NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago and could face up to five if they encounter the Kansas Jayhawks in the CBE Classic. They will also have up to 12 games nationally televised—two more than they had all of last season.
“[This is] maybe the best scheduled we’ve had,” SLU Athletics Director Chris May said. “[We] couldn’t be more thrilled with the way it lays out from opening at home and the CBE all the way to the great A-10 schedule, including closing at home on March 9 against La Salle.”
Jim Crews, who was named interim head coach following the departure of Rick Majerus in late August, inherits a team that lost just two players to graduation and is looking to reach the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons for the first time since the Charlie Spoonhour era. The Billikens won 26 games last season, including a 61-54 victory over Memphis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“We are extremely excited about this year’s challenging schedule,” Crews said. “Our fans will witness some excellent basketball with ranked teams, talented teams and programs that are expected to compete for league championships. It will be a fun and exciting season at Chaifetz Arena.”
Following home games against USC Upstate and Santa Clara to open the season, the Billikens will travel to Kansas City for the CBE Classic on Nov. 19 as part of a deal struck in 2010 when they agreed to play in the College Basketball Invitational. SLU will take on SEC newcomer Texas A&M at 6 pm in game one, with Kansas, who fell to Kentucky in last year’s National Championship game, and 2012 College Basketball Invitational runner-up Washington State squaring off in game two. The championship doubleheader will take place the next night, starting with the consolation game at 6 pm on ESPN3, followed by the championship game on ESPNU.
After a visit from Southern Illinois, the Bills head to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies in their first and only non-conference road game outside of the state of Missouri. The team was in talks for a series with defending NIT champion Stanford, but those talks ultimately fell through due to scheduling conflicts. That series with the Cardinals was replaced with one against Valparaiso, which begins this season on Dec. 2 at Chaifetz Arena.
“We had talked to Stanford and there were some facility challenges in and around playing them,” May said. “So when we had the opportunity to play a great regional game against Valpo…[we thought it was] certainly a good game to get and it fit well with our schedule.”
North Texas, UT Martin, Eastern Illinois, Loyola Marymount and Division I newcomer SIUE will all make appearances in St. Louis, before the Billikens close out the calendar year against New Mexico in a New Year’s Eve rematch. The Lobos staved off a late rally to hand SLU its second loss last season, but enter this year without top scorer Drew Gordon, who tallied 18 points and nine rebounds last year against the Bills.
SLU will open Atlantic 10 play against Massachusetts on Jan. 10, before traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Temple Owls in a nationally televised contest on Jan. 12. The Billikens’ conference schedule is more segmented this year, with road games against Duquesne (Pittsburgh) and defending conference champion St. Bonaventure (Olean, N.Y.) grouped together, as well as their trips to Fordham (Bronx, N.Y.) and Richmond (Richmond, Va.). May noted that while the school may not realize a significant drop in travel costs, they had been working with the A-10 to group those East coast games together.
“We’ve worked with the A-10, especially with the Dusquene and Bonaventure games. We were hoping would be packaged together and that worked out quite well for us,” he said. “It helps us best prepare our team and put the kids in the best position to continue to do a great job w/ their education and compete.”
Chaifetz Arena will play host to both A-10 newcomers this season, with Butler coming to town on Jan. 31 and VCU on Feb. 19. Both games will be televised on CBS Sports Network and will tip at 8 pm. Shaka Smart and the VCU Rams are 1-0 at Chaifetz Arena, with that victory coming in game two of the 2010 CBI Championship.
The Billikens close out the season with three of their final five games coming on the road, including a visit to historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on Feb. 22 to wrap up their home-and-home series with the Butler Bulldogs.
SLU ends the season with a 12:30 tip against LaSalle at Chaifetz Arena. That game will be televised through A-10 TV.
DATE – OPPONENT – LOCATION – TIME (TV)
Nov. 09 – vs. USC Upstate – St. Louis – 7 pm
Nov. 14 – vs. Santa Clara – St. Louis – 7 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
CBE Hall of Fame Classic – Sprint Center
Nov. 19 – vs. Texas A&M – Kansas City, Mo. – 6:30 pm (ESPNU)
Nov. 20 – vs. Kansas/Washington St. – Kansas City, Mo. – TBD (ESPN3 or ESPNU)
Nov. 24 – vs. Southern Illinois Carbondale – St. Louis – 7 pm
Nov. 28 – at Washington – Seattle, Wash. (Alaska Airlines Arena) – 11 pm (Pac-12 Network)
Dec. 02 – vs. Valparaiso – St. Louis – 3:30 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Dec. 05 – vs. North Texas – St. Louis – 7 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Dec. 15 – vs. UT Martin – St. Louis – 7 pm
Dec. 19 – vs. Eastern Illinois – St. Louis – 7 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Dec. 22 – vs. Loyola Marymount – St. Louis – 2:30 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Dec. 28 – vs. SIUE – St. Louis – 7 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Dec. 31 – vs. New Mexico – St. Louis – 6:30 pm (CBS Sports Network)
Jan. 04 – vs. Savannah State – St. Louis – 7 pm
Jan. 10 – vs. Massachusetts* – St. Louis – 8 pm (CBS Sports Network)
Jan. 12 – at Temple* – Philadelphia, Pa. (Liacouras Center) – 5 pm (ESPNU)
Jan. 19 – vs. Rhode Island* – St. Louis – 7 pm
Jan. 23 – at Duquesne* – Philadelphia, Pa. (Palumbo Center) – 6 pm
Jan. 26 – at St. Bonaventure* – Olean, N.Y. (Reilly Center) – 3 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Jan. 31 – vs. Butler* – St. Louis – 8 pm (CBS Sports Network)
Feb. 02 – vs. Dayton* – St. Louis – 1 pm (NBC Sports Network)
Feb. 06 – at Fordham* – Bronx, N.Y. (Rose Hill Gym) – 7 pm (CBS Sports Network)
Feb. 09 – at Richmond* – Richmond, Va. (Robins Center) – 5 pm
Feb. 16 – vs. Charlotte* – St. Louis – 6 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
Feb. 19 – vs. VCU* – St. Louis – 8 pm (CBS Sports Network)
Feb. 22 – at Butler* – Indianapolis, Ind. (Hinkle Fieldhouse) – 6 pm (ESPNU)
Feb. 27 – vs. Saint Joseph’s* – 7 pm (CBS Sports Network)
March 2 – at George Washington* – Washington, D.C. (Smith Center) – 3 pm (Fox Sports Midwest-Plus)
March 6 – at Xavier* – Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center) – 8 pm (Fox Sports Midwest)
March 9 – vs. La Salle* – St. Louis – 12:30 pm (NBC Sports Network)
Atlantic 10 Championship — Barclays Center
March 14-17 – Brooklyn, N.Y. – CBS and CBS Sports Network
Brian Haenchen covers the Saint Louis University men’s basketball team for The University News. You can follow him on Twitter (@Brian_Haenchen) or email him (email@example.com).