CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina's head men's basketball coach Larry Hunter released the 2017-18 Catamount schedule Wednesday (Aug. 23) afternoon. The schedule features a road game at the defending National Champions, North Carolina, 15 games against teams that advanced to postseason tournaments, four games in the early-season Barclays Center Classic, a contest in the newly created Asheville Mountain Classic, and trips to Clemson, Cincinnati and College of Charleston.
"The non-conference part of the schedule provides our team lots of opportunity for growth as we evaluate our strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the conference schedule in the second half of the season," said Hunter. "We play the defending National Champions in the Dean Dome which will be a fun experience. We need our fans to be in the Ramsey Center on game nights to help us versus some quality non-conference and conference opponents. We are excited about this year's team and our schedule."
Including the Tar Heels, the Catamounts will face four 2017 NCAA Tournament participants along with Cincinnati, Minnesota and the defending Southern Conference Champions, ETSU. WCU will also do battle with four teams who competed in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) including Clemson, UT Arlington, College of Charleston, and SoCon foe UNCG.
Western Carolina opens the season on Nov. 10 with a road trip to ACC-foe Clemson, who advanced to last season's NIT. The Catamounts will then make a quick trip to Cincinnati for a rare Monday night contest. The Bearcats finished last season with an impressive 30-6 record including a perfect 18-0 mark at home.
WCU's home opener is Wednesday, Nov. 15 against Hiwassee inside the Ramsey Center. WCU's first test in the Barclays Center Classic is next on the schedule as WCU travels to NCAA Tournament participant Minnesota on Nov. 19. Just two days later on Nov. 21 the Catamounts will be in Amherst, Mass., to take on UMass in the second game of the Barclays Center Classic.
The final two Classic games will take place at Niagara University in New York in a tournament-style match-up. The Catamounts will open on Nov. 24 against UT Arlington and will either take on the winner or loser of Niagara versus Alabama A&M on Nov. 25.
WCU closes out the month of November with a road trip to former SoCon foe College of Charleston on Nov. 30. December opens with another familiar opponent as mountain rival Appalachian State pays a visit to the Ramsey Center for the first time since leaving the Southern Conference in 2014. The Mountaineers and Catamounts will take to the court on Dec. 4.
The Catamounts will then travel to the flagship school of the UNC system on Dec. 6 as WCU battles to defending National Champions Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. Just two days later, the Catamounts return home for a contest with Southern Wesleyan on Dec. 8.
The final two non-conference foes will hail from the Big South Conference. WCU will travel to the site of the 2018 Southern Conference Championships in Asheville, N.C., to take on mountain rival UNC Asheville in the U.S. Cellular Center on Sunday, Dec. 17 as part of the Asheville Mountain Classic, which will also feature a match-up of Wofford and High Point, before returning home to face High Point on Tuesday, Dec. 19 inside the Ramsey Center.
The Southern Conference schedule opens with three road games for the Catamounts as they travel to The Citadel (Dec. 30), Chattanooga (Jan. 4) and Samford (Jan. 6) to open league play. WCU's first conference home game comes on Jan. 10 as the Mercer Bears visit the Ramsey Center.
UNCG (Jan. 13) and VMI (Jan. 15) will also visit the Ramsey Center before the Catamounts hit the road for a three game stretch against ETSU (Jan. 20), Furman (Jan. 27) and Wofford (Jan. 29) to close out the month of January.
February opens with a pair of home contests with Chattanooga (Feb. 1) and Samford (Feb. 3). A quick trip to VMI (Feb. 8) and UNCG (Feb. 10) marks two of the final three road games of the season as the Catamounts close out the year with four of five at home.
WCU will welcome in Wofford (Feb. 15), ETSU (Feb. 17), Furman (Feb. 23) and The Citadel (Feb. 25 over the final two weeks of the season with the lone road game sandwiched in the middle at Mercer (Feb. 20).
The 2018 Southern Conference Championship will once again take place in Asheville, N.C., at the U.S. Cellular Center March 2-5.
The Catamounts return the bulk of their 2016-17 roster including the top four scorers from a season ago in Haboubacar Mutombo (11.7 ppg.), Devin Peterson (10.5 ppg.), Deriece Parks (9.4 ppg.) and Marc Gosselin (8.9 ppg.) and the top eight rebounders. WCU also welcomed in an extremely talented recruiting class that features both size and skill.
Men's basketball season tickets go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 12. More information on packages and pricing will be made available on CatamountSports.com in early September. For ticketing information call the Catamount Ticket Office at (828) 227-2401. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.CatamountSports.com.
Tickets for the road game at the defending National Champions, North Carolina, will be available on a priority basis with preference going to current Catamount Club and season ticket holders. More information on a on sale date and price will be available at a later date on CatamountSports.com.