PIKEVILLE – In just over two months, the sounds of University of Pikeville men’s basketball will fill the East Kentucky Expo Center, according to the 2016-17 schedule released by head coach Kelly Wells on Friday.
While the unofficial start date is Oct. 21 with the annual Basketball Blast-Off at UPIKE Gym, the regular-season will begin four days later on Oct. 25 with Central Penn coming to the Expo Center.
The next few weeks will see the Bears host and take part in multiple events, including their own UPIKE Tip-Off, Appalachian Wireless and Walters Auto Classics, followed by three games in the MSC/SSAC Challenge in Pulaski, Tenn.
Opponents at that challenge on Nov. 17-19 will be a good early-season test for UPIKE as Martin Methodist (Tenn.) went 18-13 last season, Faulkner (Ala.) was 21-14 and Bethel (Tenn.) went 18-12.
The UPIKE Tip-Off Classic on Oct. 28-29 will be tough as well with Bluefield (Va.) up first, a team the Bears beat 93-82 last season, followed by Bob Jones, a team that won its first six games last year.
Shawnee State (Ohio) is the first Mid-South Conference opponent on the slate with the “battle of the Bears” scheduled for Nov. 26 in Pikeville. Two days later, defending national-runner up Georgetown comes to town for a Saturday tilt.
Three of UPIKE’s opponents were ranked in the Postseason NAIA Top-25, all of which are conference teams. Georgetown finished last season ranked No. 2, while No. 11 Campbellsville comes to town on Jan. 7 and the first meeting with No. 15 Cumberlands is on the road on Jan. 21.
Postseason play begins March 1-5 with the MSC Championship in Frankfort, while the NAIA National Championship is scheduled for March 17-21 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.