The Lander men’s basketball team will play seven of its 28 regular-season games against teams that participated in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, including a pair of contests against conference foes UNC Pembroke, Columbus State and Augusta with a non-conference matchup against Wingate.
“Every year I feel like our schedule challenges us and our program to become the best possible team we are capable of becoming,” said head coach Steve Roberts. “You want to have a competitive non-conference games to help prepare you for a formidable conference schedule. We feel like this season’s schedule will test us early and often all the way until the end.”
The Bearcats’ non-conference schedule includes the Trojan Classic at Anderson on Nov. 10-11, home games against Wingate and Livingstone and road games at rival Erskine and Fayetteville State.
Lander opens regular-season action in Anderson on November 10 against Carson-Newman, then faces host Anderson on the second day of the Trojan Classic. Following the home opener against Wingate (Nov. 21), the No. 8 seed in last year’s NCAA Southeast Regional, the Bearcats will open conference play by hosting Georgia College (Nov. 27).
“There were some changes in our league this year with Montevallo and Armstrong State leaving the Peach Belt Conference,” said Roberts. “We now will play every team in the conference twice this season. That alone makes our schedule tougher than last season. With more conference games you have to play less non-conference games and with that comes being very selective with who you play. I like our non-conference schedule and the caliber of our opponents.”
The Bearcats then hit the road to face Erskine (Nov. 30) in Due West. Lander rallied from a 14-point second half deficit last year to earn its fifth consecutive win over the Flying Fleet. The first road PBC trip of the year comes against Columbus State (Dec. 2), which earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament last year.
A matchup with Livingstone (Dec. 9) in Horne Arena breaks up a four-game road stretch, as the Bearcats then wrap up non-conference play at Fayetteville State (Dec. 11) and travel to Young Harris (Dec. 14).
Lander concludes 2017 with a home contest against Clayton State (Dec. 19) and a trip to Georgia Southwestern (Dec. 30).
The Bearcats ring in the new year with back-to-back games in Horne Arena against UNC Pembroke (Jan. 3), the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Southeast Regional last season, and Flagler (Jan. 6). Lander then embarks on its longest road stretch of the campaign, facing Francis Marion (Jan. 10), Georgia College (Jan. 13) and Clayton State (Jan. 15). The Bearcats return home to battle Young Harris (Jan. 17) and USC Aiken (Jan. 20).
Lander’s final 10 regular-season games are at North Georgia (Jan. 24), vs. Augusta (Jan. 27), which advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, at UNC Pembroke (Jan. 30), at Flagler (Feb. 3), Homecoming Week contests against Francis Marion (Feb. 7) and Columbus State (Feb. 10), vs. Georgia Southwestern (Feb. 12), at USC Aiken (Feb. 17), vs. North Georgia (Feb. 21) and at Augusta (Feb. 24).
The 2018 PBC Tournament will begin on Feb. 28, with the semifinal on March 3 and the championship on March 4. Lander hosted the 2017 tournament and won the conference title in 2016.
“We wanted to challenge our players with this season’s schedule and I believe we have done that,” Roberts said. “We will find out very quickly what type of team we are going to be this season. I’m looking forward to getting to work.”