The University of Hawai'i released its 2017-18 men's basketball schedule, which features 20 home games at the Stan Sheriff Center. This year's non-conference schedule will include at least six teams that won 20 or more games and advanced to the postseason last season.
The early season will be a challenging one. Three of UH's first four opponents were 20-game winners the year prior. UH officially opens their 2017-18 campaign on Nov. 10 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the previously announced field of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. The 'Bows will then face 2016 NCAA Tournament squads North Dakota (22-10) on Nov. 12 and Troy (22-15) on Nov. 13.
Following the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic, UH will host former Western Athletic Conference rival Nevada on Friday, Nov. 24. The Wolf Pack went 28-7 last year en route to a Mountain West championship and NCAA Tournament bid.
Other single-game, non-conference home contests this season include Adams State (Nov. 27), Prairie View A&M (Dec. 6), UH Hilo (Dec. 9), Utah Valley (Dec. 17), and Howard (Dec. 29).
Christmas week brings the ninth annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Dec. 22-23, 25). Five teams in the field made the postseason last year, including Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Princeton, USC, and UH's first-round opponent Miami. This will be the second Diamond Head Classic meeting between the Rainbow and the Hurricanes. Miami won 21 games and was an 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament last season.
"We play in one of the great venues in the country," head coach Eran Ganot said. "And the opportunity to host 20 homes games right here in the Stan Sheriff Center is exciting for us and for our great fanbase who make it such a tough place to play. We'll need that support against some pretty tough competition this year. We take great pride in hosting two nationally-regarded tournaments filled with NCAA-caliber squads. We'll also face a 28-win Nevada team fresh off one of its best seasons in recent history."
UH's lone non-conference road game will be in Salt Lake City where the 'Bows will face Utah on Dec. 2. This will be the second straight year the former Western Athletic Conference rivals will meet. The Utes (20-11, 2017 NIT bid) defeated UH in the 2016 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
"We'll be playing in hostile environment against a Pac-12 team that's perennially in the post-season," Ganot said. "We know it won't be easy, but we welcome the challenge."
In January, UH will begin Big West Conference regular-season play with a 16-game league schedule. The 'Bows will open on the road with a pair of games at Long Beach State (Jan. 4) and CSUN (Jan 6). They'll then return home for four-straight home games, beginning with a tilt against Cal Poly (Jan. 11).
The 'Bows will play four of its final six Big West games on the road. UH's home finale will be Feb. 24 versus defending regular-season champions UC Irvine, before ending the regular season on the road at UC Davis (March 1) and Cal State Fullerton (March 3). The Big West Tournament will again be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
"Our non-conference schedule should prepare us well for the Big West Conference season," Ganot said. "Last year there were a lot of new faces around the league. This year, with the continuity among coaches and a number of talented players returning, the conference as a whole should continue to make strides. It promises to be an exciting league race from start to finish."
A total of eight letterwinners and four starters return from last year's squad that went 14-16 overall and 8-8 in the Big West. Among the returnees are all-Big West Players Gibson Johnson and Jack Purchase. Senior forward Mike Thomas also rejoins the fold after redshirting in 2016-17.