Spartanburg, S.C. – Armed with a strong core of returning players, one redshirt freshman and a seven-member recruiting class, USC Upstate head coach Eddie Payne announces the schedule for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
Upstate will play 10 games against programs that advanced to postseason play in the NCAA (Cincinnati, Florida Gulf Coast - 2), NIT (Charlotte, Mercer - 2, Niagara, Tennessee) and CIT (Kent State, Tennessee State) tournaments in 2013. For the second straight year, Upstate fans will be able to listen to Spartan basketball over the airwaves on ESPN Spartanburg at 95.1 FM and 1400 AM.
"Once again we have challenged ourselves with a very good schedule," said Upstate head coach Eddie Payne, now in his 12th season at the helm of the Upstate program and 29th overall. "We have two SEC teams on our schedule, an ACC team, Cincinnati, and we are happy to have Charlotte on our schedule for a very good Conference USA game close enough for fans to get to. Couple those games with a tough conference schedule and this will be a very challenging schedule for this year's team. We are looking forward to it know it will be challenging in every aspect."
In addition to the always difficult A-Sun schedule which features a pair of matchups against 2013 Sweet 16 participant Florida Gulf Coast, Upstate will play 13 non-conference games, highlighted by a return trip to Columbia to take on South Carolina along with home games against Tennessee State, UNC Asheville, North Greenville and Bob Jones.
Upstate will open the season with six straight road games, tipping things off on Nov. 9 at Virginia Tech. A game against in-state rival Winthrop follows on Nov. 13 before the Spartans head to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee on Nov. 16. Upstate will travel to Kent, Ohio, to play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament hosted by Kent State Nov. 21-23, taking on Kent State, Niagara and Western Carolina.
"Over the years we have grown accustomed to playing early season games on the road. These road games early on will be another challenge for this blend of veteran and new players. We have a good bit of experience that will help us as we take on the challenge of this schedule," said Payne.
Upstate will then play three of its next four games at home in the friendly confines of the G.B. Hodge Center. The Spartans' home opener will be against Bob Jones University on Nov. 25 before hosting Tennessee State on Nov. 30. Upstate will hit the road on Dec. 3 playing at Cincinnati before returning home to play host to UNC Asheville on Dec. 15. The Spartans will close out their pre-Christmas schedule at South Carolina on Dec. 19 and at Charlotte on Dec. 21. The final non-conference game of the season comes on Dec. 31 at home against North Greenville.
Upstate will open A-Sun play on the road at Mercer on Jan. 4 and Kennesaw State on Jan. 6 before returning to the Hodge Center for its a-Sun home opener on Jan. 9 against Northern Kentucky. Lipscomb comes calling on Jan. 11. The Spartans will make their first of two trips to Florida Jan. 16 and 18 taking on Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson, respectively.
Upstate will play four consecutive conference games at home to close out January and start February, hosting Jacksonville on Jan. 23, North Florida on Jan. 25, Kennesaw State on Jan. 30 and Mercer on Feb. 1. Road contests at ETSU on Feb. 3, Lipscomb on Feb. 6 and Northern Kentucky on Feb. 8 follow the four-game home stand. The Spartans will host Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 13 and 15, make their second trip to Florida to take on North Florida and Jacksonville on Feb. 20 and 22, and close out the season at home against ETSU as part of the A-Sun's Game of the Week on CSS.
The A-Sun has tweaked the A-Sun Tournament schedule for 2013-14 with the highest seeded teams hosting in each round of the championship. The four highest seeds will host the first round of the tournament on March 4. The two highest remaining seeds will host the semifinal games on March 6 and the highest remaining seed will host the A-Sun Championship game on March 9. The championship game will air on ESPN2.