2017-18 Women's Basketball Schedule
MARTIN, Tenn. – Fourteen home games highlight a loaded schedule for the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team as the complete 2017-18 slate was announced by head coach Kevin McMillan today.
UT Martin will take on teams from 10 different conferences, including seven teams which qualified for postseason play in 2016-17 along with a trio of first-time opponents. Additionally, the Skyhawks will travel to six different states as part of their 30-game schedule.
Also included in this year’s schedule is an expanded 18-game Ohio Valley Conference docket, as the league announced the change this summer, replacing the 16-game format used since 2011-12. As part of the 2017-18 schedule, the Skyhawks will take on every OVC program on a home-and-home basis with the exception of Belmont, Jacksonville State, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.
“I like how our schedule has come together,” said McMillan. “I think last year we had so many road games and that contributed to wearing us down and out. We always try to split having half of our games at home and half on the road. This year we are really close to that when you consider that there are five home, five away and two neutral non-conference games. We really like the balance.”
The Skyhawks unofficially begin their season on Monday, Nov. 6 as the team will play host to NAIA-foe Lindsey Wilson College in an exhibition affair at 5:30 p.m. in the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center.
UT Martin then officially opens the season later that week with a road matchup at regional rival and Missouri Valley Conference foe Southern Illinois on Friday, No. 10.
The Skyhawks home opener is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 13 when the squad hosts Division II member Alabama Huntsville. UT Martin will then remain at home for its next matchup when playing host to Big Ten conference member Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 18.
A road matchup at Arkansas State on Tuesday, Nov. 21 will break up a homestand which will see four of five games played in the Elam Center. The Skyhawks will then return home to host SoCon foe Western Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 26 before closing out the homestand against MEAC member North Carolina A&T on Thursday, Nov. 30.
UT Martin will open the month of December up on the road with back-to-back contest against perennial NCAA Tournament qualifiers in Chattanooga (Saturday, Dec. 2) and Louisville (Tuesday, Dec. 5). The Skyhawks will then host their final non-conference game of the season with the team’s annual Kid Game against Rhodes College on Thursday, Dec. 7.
“When you consider that we have Northwestern at home, along with road matchups at Louisville, Chattanooga and Purdue, there are some heavy hitters on the schedule,” said McMillan. “I think overall, it is fairly balanced and maybe it is a better way to get this younger group ready for the conference season.”
With one final non-conference tune-up before OVC play gets underway, the Skyhawks will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana to participate in the three-game Basketball Travelers Inc. Invitational. The Skyhawks will matchup against Women’s NIT participant Saint Mary’s on Sunday, Dec. 17 before squaring off against Big Ten member and NCAA Tournament participant Purdue on Monday, Dec. 18. UT Martin will then close out non-conference play against Women’s Basketball Invitational qualifier Eastern Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 20 to wrap up the tournament slate.
“This tournament is loaded and I don’t think people really notice it because of the unfamiliarity with the teams we are playing,” said McMillan. “Saint Mary’s and Eastern Washington are two very good teams combined with a difficult Big Ten team in Purdue. All three teams were in the postseason last year and it is a great tournament to get some neutral site contests in right before conference play begins.”
UT Martin will help ring in the new year with a pair of league matchups to close out 2017. The Skyhawks will host OVC foe Tennessee State on Thursday, Dec. 28 before setting up a showdown with defending OVC champion Belmont on Saturday, Dec. 30.
With league play in full swing, the Skyhawks will travel to Austin Peay (Wednesday, Jan. 3) and Murray State (Saturday, Jan. 6) to open the month of January. UT Martin will then host Eastern Kentucky (Thursday, Jan. 11) and Morehead State (Saturday, Jan. 13) before embarking on its longest road swing of the year with four consecutive road matchups featuring stops at Eastern Illinois (Thursday, Jan. 18), SIUE (Saturday, Jan. 20), Jacksonville State (Thursday, Jan. 25) and Tennessee Tech (Saturday, Jan. 27).
The month of February will feature five home games with matchups against Austin Peay (Thursday, Feb. 1), Murray State (Saturday, Feb. 3), Southeast Missouri (Saturday, Feb. 10), SIUE (Thursday, Feb. 15) and Eastern Illinois (Saturday, Feb. 17). The Skyhawks will also travel to Eastern Kentucky (Thursday, Feb. 8), Morehead State (Thursday, Feb. 22) and Southeast Missouri (Saturday, Feb. 24) in the final month of the regular season.
“With the 18-game schedule it does stretch it out a little longer with games around Christmas and New Years,” said McMillan. “As far as competitiveness though, the league is tough as it always is with so many players returning to their squads. You will even see it with the preseason All-OVC teams. I think this could be the best year on paper for our league.”
For the first time ever, the OVC Basketball Championship tournament will take place at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. The four-day event is scheduled for Feb. 28 through March 3.