GREENVILLE - Striving to build off the momentum of its historic 2012-13 campaign, the East Carolina men's basketball team released its 2013-14 schedule Thursday highlighted by the program's inaugural appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off, 10 games against teams that competed in postseason play and the renewal of the UNC Wilmington rivalry.
The Pirates, with two returning starters and eight additional lettermen from last year's team that finished 23-12 and captured the CIT title, will play a minimum of 17 homes games (nine non-conference, eight Conference USA) and are not scheduled to play a non-conference game outside the state of the North Carolina.
A trio of opponents: Middle Tennessee, North Carolina A&T and North Carolina State participated in the NCAA Tournament last season where N.C. A&T advanced to the second round before losing to eventual National Champion Louisville. Conference USA foes Charlotte, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss competed in the NIT with Southern Miss reaching the quarterfinals by posting a second round victory over LA Tech. Tulane and Tulsa also gained postseason invitations in 2013 participating in the CIT and CBI, respectively.
The Pirates will open their 82nd season of intercollegiate basketball on Friday, Nov. 8 against North Carolina Wesleyan before playing their first road game of the season at UNCG (Nov. 12).
Following a home date against Chowan (Nov. 14), ECU will make its first appearance in the NIT Tip-Off as part of a yet to be announced four-team pod hosted by Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Pirates will play their opening round game either Nov. 18 or 19 and conclude second round action the following day.
The winner of the four-team pod will advance to the semifinals, which will be held Wednesday, Nov. 27, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The remaining teams will play third and fourth round consolation games at to be determined campus sites on Nov. 25 and 26.
Following the NIT, ECU will rekindle its rivalry with UNCW inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum on Dec. 1 to begin a four-year series. The Pirates posted a 99-85 win at Trask Coliseum during the last meeting between the former conference foes in 2008. The teams have played just four times since ECU left the CAA following the 2000-01 season.
Home games against Fayetteville State (Dec. 3), Mount Olive (Dec. 8), N.C. A&T (Dec. 14) and VMI (Dec. 19) follow before closing the fall semester against N.C. State (Dec. 21) at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
ECU returns from the Christmas break to host Georgia State (Dec. 29) before concluding non-conference play at Campbell (Jan. 2).
Conference USA action opens for the Pirates on Jan. 11 inside Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum against league newcomer and travel partner Old Dominion as part of its 16-game conference schedule. The league adopted travel partners for the 2013-14 season, playing games on Thursdays and Saturdays. The Pirates will play a home-and-home series with ODU and all other 15 teams just once.
The Pirates will play host to Tulane (Jan. 23), Southern Miss (Jan.25), UTSA (Feb. 6), UTEP (Feb. 8), Louisiana Tech (Feb. 20), Rice (Feb. 22) and Charlotte (Feb. 27). Conference road games in 2014 feature trips to Florida Atlantic (Jan. 16), FIU (Jan. 18), Middle Tennessee (Jan. 30), UAB (Feb. 1), Tulsa (Feb. 13), North Texas (Feb. 15) and Marshall (March 2) before closing out the regular season at Old Dominion (March 6). It'll be ECU's first-ever meetings with conference newcomers FIU, Louisiana Tech and UTSA.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings will receive a double-bye and seeds five through nine a bye in the 15-team 2014 C-USA Basketball Championship, which will be held at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas beginning March 11. All C-USA teams qualify for the tournament with the exception of FIU this season.
Complete game times and television appearances will be announced at a later date.