Monmouth men’s basketball team has set the non-conference

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Courtesy: Photo by Taylor Jackson


WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – After a 28-win season that culminated in a MAAC regular season championship and a top seed in the NIT, the Monmouth men’s basketball team has set the non-conference portion of the schedule for the 2016-17 season, head coach King Rice announced Monday. The Hawks will host four out-of-conference home games and visit two 2016 Final Four teams in the first two months of the season. Of the 11 games MU will play out-of-conference, three appeared in last season’s NCAA Tournament and eight played in national postseason tournaments.

The Hawks open the season at home for the second time in the King Rice era and first time since 2012 when they host Drexel on Friday, November 11. The Hawks topped the Dragons 82-74 behind 28 Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, NY/Kingston) points last November, and will host first-year head coach Zach Spiker at The MAC.

MU then takes to the road for a pair of high-major matchups, first on November 15 against fellow 2015-16 NIT top seed South Carolina. The Frank Martin-led Gamecocks won 25 games a year ago, including starting 15-0. The Hawks continue on to face 2016 national semifinalist Syracuse for the second time in Rice’s tenure, facing off with the Orange at the Carrier Dome on November 18. Both games are a part of the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational tournament.

Monmouth returns home on November 22 to take on Cornell after the Blue and White dispatched of the Big Red last December, 78-69 on 26 points from Robinson. Thanksgiving weekend will be spent in Worcester, MA as the Hawks wrap up the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational against Holy Cross and South Carolina State on November 25 and 26.

The Hawks repay a visit to Wagner on Tuesday, December 6 after topping the Seahawks in West Long Branch last December. Army West Point comes in on Saturday, December 10 under first-year head coach Jimmy Allen, the Black Knights first visit to campus since 1995 in Boylan Gym.

Monmouth and Memphis square off for the first time on December 13 at the FedEx Forum, where the Tigers will be led by newly-appointed head man Tubby Smith. An in-state rivalry is renewed a week later when Princeton comes to town on December 20, matching up two of the top teams in the Garden State from a year ago. Princeton won 22 games last year and return nearly their entire roster.

The non-conference slate wraps up on Wednesday, December 28 with a visit to national runner-up North Carolina, the alma mater of Coach Rice. The teams met on New Year’s Day 2012 in Rice’s first season at the Dean Smith Center, and will get together for a second time to wrap up the out-of-conference slate.

The Hawks return 15 of 16 players from last season after winning the MAAC regular season title and topping five high-major programs in the non-conference. Rice, the recipient of multiple Coach of the Year honors, led the Hawks to 17 victories away from home to lead the nation. All-League performers Justin Robinson, the MAAC Player of the Year, and Micah Seaborn, the conference Rookie of the Year, return in 2016-17 after combining for 1,167 points as a duo a season ago, the most in Monmouth history for two players.