DES MOINES, Iowa - The Drake University men's basketball team will face another extremely strong slate of games, including 15 home dates as part of its 2012-13 schedule announced Wednesday by fifth-year head coach, Mark Phelps.
The 30-game slate features 20 potential games against programs that advanced to postseason play in 2011-12, including 13 that finished the season in the top-100 of the RPI and a home date in the annual Sears BracketBusters event during the last week in February.
"Our staff and players are extremely excited about what will be a very challenging schedule this season," Phelps said. "Our non-conference schedule features a trip to the Anaheim Classic where we'll face three great teams, plus we have the opportunity to host St. Mary's and a BracketBusters game against another marquee opponent in the Knapp Center. In our non-conference schedule alone, we could potentially face three teams that were league champions last season and three more that finished in the top third of their leagues."
Phelps' 2012-13 squad will feature four returning starters and eight newcomers as well as the return of Seth VanDeest from injury to a team that won 18 games last season and made its third postseason appearance under Phelps.
Fans can get their first look at the Bulldogs in action in a Nov. 3 exhibition against Southwest Baptist at 7:05 p.m. in the Knapp Center followed by the season opener a week later against William Jewell at 11 a.m. prior to the Drake vs. Butler football game.
The Bulldogs' next five games are on the road in a stretch that will test Phelps' squad against Horizon League Champion Detroit on Nov. 10 followed by the Anaheim Classic opener against California on Nov. 22. Drake's second game at the Anaheim Classic will come against either Rice or Georgia Tech with the third game being against either Pacific, Xavier, Drexel or St. Mary's. The five-game road swing ends at Nevada, the 2012 Western Athletic Conference regular-season champion, on Dec. 1.
A return home doesn't slow down the challenging schedule as Drake hosts St. Mary's, a perennial NCAA tournament caliber team, at the Knapp Center on Dec. 5 in a game that is counted as part of the Anaheim Classic followed by a visit from IPFW on Dec. 8. A week later, the Bulldogs face in-state foe Iowa State at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines as part of the Big Four Classic. A pair of home games against North Carolina Central (Dec. 19) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 22) serve as the team's final non-conference games before Missouri Valley Conference play begin on Dec. 29 with the Bulldogs visiting Bradley.
"Our non-conference schedule will expose our team to various styles of play and hostile environments," Phelps said. "It will serve as great preparation for our guys as we head into the rigors of conference play in one of the toughest leagues in the nation."
Drake's MVC home opener comes on Jan. 2 against regular-season MVC champion Wichita State. The home MVC slate also includes Missouri State (Jan. 5), Evansville (Jan. 16), Creighton (Jan. 23), Indiana State (Feb. 2), Illinois State (Feb. 6), UNI (Feb. 16), Bradley (Feb. 20) and the regular-season finale against Southern Illinois (March 2).
In league play, the Bulldogs travel to Creighton (Jan. 8), Illinois State (Jan. 12), UNI (Jan. 20), Missouri State (Jan. 27), Southern Illinois (Jan. 30), Evansville (Feb. 10), Wichita State (Feb. 13) and Indiana State (Feb. 27).
Television broadcast assignments will be announced at a later date in conjunction with the release of the MVC television package.
Season tickets for the 2012-13 season are on sale to the general public starting Sept. 17 with mini-packs going on sale on Oct. 15. Single-game tickets will be available on Oct. 29. To purchase your tickets, or for more information, visit www.GoDrakeBulldogs.com or call 515-271-DOGS.