Men's Hoops: Non-conference schedule revealed

NASHVILLE-- The Vanderbilt men's basketball team has announced its non-conference schedule for the 2009-10 season, a slate that includes a trip to Hawaii for the 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational and home games with Big 12 power Missouri and Big East member DePaul at Memorial Gym.

This year's non-conference schedule features nine opponents ranked in the RPI top 200 at the end of last year, and a strong field at the EA Sports Maui Invitational - a field which includes Arizona, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Maryland, Colorado, Gonzaga, and host Chaminade. Vanderbilt will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats of the Big East Conference in the second game of the tournament on November 23 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui. Tip time is set for 4:30 p.m. central time, with the game being televised on ESPN2.

Also playing on Vanderbilt's side of the bracket is ACC participant Maryland and host Chaminade. The Commodores will play either the Terrapins or Silverswords on November 24 on ESPN2 at either 12:30 or 6 p.m. central time. Vanderbilt has a 6-3 overall record in the Maui Invitational and captured the 1986 tournament with wins over Virginia Commonwealth (75-67), Missouri (69-54), and New Mexico (87-71). This will be the first trip to Maui for the Commodores under current Vanderbilt head coach
Kevin Stallings.

"We are very excited to go play in the prestigious Maui Invitational," said Stallings. "The tournament consistently draws great teams and this year is no exception. Obviously, it will be a fun experience for our players and a great challenge for our team. We hope our on-court experience will match what we expect our off-court experience to be."

After playing an exhibition against Alabama-Huntsville on November 10, the Commodores will play Lipscomb in the team's regular season opener on November 16 at Memorial Gym. It will mark the second time in three years the two Nashville teams have met at Memorial.

Vanderbilt then travels to the west coast to play St. Mary's in Moraga, California on November 20, before heading to the EA Sports Maui Invitational for three games November 23-25.

Big 12 powerhouse and 2009 Elite Eight participant Missouri awaits the Commodores when they return to the mainland for a game on December 2 at Memorial Gym. The game begins a home-and-home series between the two schools. Big East member DePaul plays at Memorial three days later on December 5 to close out a home-and-home series - the Commodores won a 91-85 overtime thriller in Chicago on December 12, 2007.

On December 8, Vanderbilt makes its third-ever trip to Champaign, Ill., to take on the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Illinois captured last year's meeting at Memorial Gym, 69-63.

December 11 features a neutral site contest with Western Kentucky at the Sommet Center in downtown Nashville. The game is part of a doubleheader with Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State.

Vanderbilt then wraps up play before the holiday break with home games against Tennessee State and Mercer on December 19 and 21, respectively.

After the break, the Commodores play three more games in the friendly confines of Memorial - December 30 against Manhattan, January 2 versus Southern Miss, and January 4 against MTSU.

Altogether, the non-conference portion of the schedule features eight homes games, two road contests, and four neutral site games.

"We feel like our nonconference schedule this year will be as strong as any we have had since we have been here," said Stallings. "We think this will be more than enough to prepare us for the rigors of the SEC schedule. Hopefully, it will show the NCAA Selection Committee that we made a definite effort to play a challenging schedule."

2009-10 Non-Conference Schedule (All times are TBA unless listed below)
Nov. 10 vs. Alabama-Huntsville
Nov. 16 vs. Lipscomb
Nov. 20 @ St. Mary's

at 2009 EA Sports Maui Invitational
Nov. 23 Cincinnati (ESPN2) - 4:30 p.m. CT
Nov. 24 Maryland/Chaminade (ESPN2) - 12:30/6 p.m. CT
Nov. 25 Maui Day 3

Dec. 2 vs. Missouri
Dec. 5 vs. DePaul
Dec. 8 @ Illinois
Dec. 11 vs. Western Kentucky (at Sommet Center)
Dec. 19 vs. Tennessee State
Dec. 21 vs. Mercer
Dec. 30 vs. Manhattan
Jan. 2 vs. Southern Miss
Jan. 4 vs. MTSU

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