GREENVILLE - The 2012-13 East Carolina men's basketball schedule features 17 regular season home games and a first-ever visit to Chapel Hill announced third-year head coach Jeff Lebo Monday. The Pirates will play 13 games against teams that competed in post-season play a year ago, including NCAA Tournament participants Memphis, Norfolk State, North Carolina and Southern Miss.
The Pirates and Tar Heels' Dec. 15 meeting will be just the third game between the instate rivals on the hardwood and first regular season matchup since 1953. The two teams last met during the First Round of the 1993 NCAA East Regional in Winston-Salem with UNC posting an 85-65 victory en route to the national championship. The only prior contest occurred in Greenville on Jan. 6, 1953 at Christenbury Gym, which resulted in a 79-66 Tar Heel win.
"Coach [Roy] Williams has been very gracious to play at other places I've been and was all for it here as well," Lebo said. "This is a marquee game for us and one that our kids will be very excited to play."
ECU will open the season with a four-game homestand and conclude the 2012 calendar year with a three-game homestand over the Holiday break. The Pirates' non-conference home schedule includes a pair of Big South and Southern Conference opponents as well its first-ever game against Norfolk State, who knocked out No. 2 seed Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
The regular-season tips-off Saturday, Nov. 10 as the Pirates host Washington and Lee followed by games against Methodist College (Nov. 13), UNC Greensboro (Nov. 16) and Appalachian State (Nov. 20) to conclude the homestand.
ECU will play its first of four non-conference road games Nov. 26 in Atlanta against Georgia State, a 2012 Collegeinsider.com Tournament participant, before heading to Charlotte to battle the 49ers five days later. The Pirates will close out the 2012 fall semester against St. Andrews (Dec. 4) before beginning their post-exam slate against North Carolina.
East Carolina will host Gardner-Webb (Dec.18) and travel to UMass (Dec. 22), which reached the semifinals of the 2012 NIT, before heading home for Christmas. Its first game back will be against Norfolk State (Dec. 29) with games against Campbell (Jan. 2) and N.C. Wesleyan (Jan. 5) to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule.
"Our biggest challenge this year will be on the interior," Lebo stated. "We've got a lot of inexperienced players on the inside, so how those guys do early will have an impact on how successful we will be."
Conference USA play begins for the Pirates on Wednesday, Jan. 9 as they make their final visit to the FedExForum to take on Memphis. ECU will receive visits from UCF (Jan. 12), Houston (Jan. 16), UTEP (Jan. 26) and Memphis (Jan. 30) during the first month of league play with trips to Marshall (Jan. 19) and UAB (Jan. 23).
ECU will have four home games and five road contests during the final five weeks of the regular season with the Pirates playing their final two games of the regular season at home for the first time since 1999. ECU will head to Rice (Feb. 2) and UCF (Feb. 9) before hosting UAB (Feb. 13) and Southern Miss (Feb. 16). The Pirates will then play three consecutive road games against Tulsa (Feb. 20), SMU (Feb. 23) and Southern Miss (March 2) ahead of hosting Tulane (March 6) and Marshall (March 9).
The 2013 Conference USA Basketball Championship will be held March 13-16 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.