RICHMOND, Va. – Six NCAA Tournament teams and several high-profile, nationally televised contests highlight a loaded 2014-15 VCU Men's Basketball's non-conference schedule, unveiled Thursday.
The Rams' ledger includes previously announced contests with Tennessee and Villanova, and sets the stage for rematches with Virginia (Dec. 6) and longtime rival Old Dominion (Nov. 29). In all, the Rams will take on schools from the ACC, Big East, SEC, American Athletic and either the Big Ten or Pac-12. Seven of the Rams' 13 non-conference games will feature opponents that finished the 2013-14 season ranked in the top 50 in RPI.
"This non-conference schedule is as challenging as any we've played. It gives us the opportunity to test ourselves against some of the top teams in the country and helps prepare us for the always competitive Atlantic 10," Head Coach Shaka Smart said.
VCU begins with an exhibition contest against California (Pa.) and Smart's mentor Bill Brown on Friday, Nov. 7 at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center inside the HDL, Inc. Athletic Village.
The Rams officially tip off their 47th season against Tennessee's Volunteers on Friday, Nov. 14 in the inaugural Veterans Classic at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. That game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
VCU returns to Richmond for its home opener on Tuesday, Nov. 18 when it welcomes 2014 NIT squad and MAC regular season champion Toledo to the Siegel Center in the preliminary round of the Legends Classic. The game will be carried nationally in ESPNU. Two nights later, VCU hosts University of Maryland-Eastern Shore in the second of four Legends Classic contests.
On Monday, Nov. 24, the Rams head to the familiar confines of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. for the Championship Round of the Legends Classic against Villanova on ESPN2. The Wildcats were 29-5 a year ago and were No. 13 in the final USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll in 2014. The next night, VCU will face one of two NCAA teams from last season, Michigan or Oregon, at Barclays Center.
VCU returns to the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. on Nov. 29 for its 90th meeting with rival Old Dominion. The Rams stay on the road and travel to Normal, Ill. to take on Illinois State from the Missouri Valley Conference on Dec. 2.
On Dec. 6, Virginia visits the Siegel Center for the first time in what will be one of the most anticipated games in the 16-year history of the arena.
Two teams always contending for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Northern Iowa (Dec. 13) and Belmont (Dec. 16), visit Richmond to finish off the three-game homestand.
On Dec. 20, VCU will hit the road to meet Cincinnati for the first time since 1980. The Bearcats were an NCAA qualifier in 2014 and finished 22nd in the final USA Today/Coaches Poll.
Rounding out the non-conference schedule will be home tilts with East Tennessee State (Dec. 22) and Cleveland State (Dec. 29).
VCU returns three starters and six of its top eight scorers from a team that finished 26-9 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season in 2013-14.