A first-ever visit from Wake Forest and a home game against 2008 national runner-up Memphis highlight the 2008-09 East Carolina men’s basketball schedule released by University officials Tuesday. The Pirates’ 29-game schedule includes 16 home games with a total of nine games against teams that participated in postseason play in 2008.
The Pirates, led by second-year head coach Mack McCarthy, will play four teams that played in the NCAA Tournament, two in the NIT and three in the newly-founded College Basketball Invitational (CBI). ECU will face three of those opponents in the first six games.
“This schedule is going to be a tremendous challenge and opportunity for our young basketball team,” said McCarthy. “For our fans, we again have an attractive home schedule with 16 games, and each of our non-conference road games is drivable. The rigorous non-conference schedule will prepare us for the difficult Conference USA slate.”
ECU will open the season with five straight home games beginning against Coker on Nov. 14 followed by a visit from St. Andrews on Nov. 16. The Pirates will renew their rivalry with Campbell, which dates back to 1932, on Nov. 19 before hosting a pair of former Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rivals in George Mason (Nov. 22) and Virginia Commonwealth (Nov. 25). GMU claimed the 2008 CAA Tournament title, while VCU captured the regular season championship. The Pirates’ game against VCU will mark the first meeting between Coach McCarthy and the team he coached from 2000-2003 and the first between the two schools since 2001.
Following road trips to 2008 Big South Champion Winthrop (Nov. 29) and UNC Wilmington (Dec. 3), the Pirates return home to face Limestone (Dec. 6) and UNC Greensboro (Dec. 13) before playing three of their next four games against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.
ECU travels to Raleigh on Dec. 17 to face NC State at the RBC Center for the fifth time since 2002. The Pirates then return home to welcome Wake Forest to Greenville for the first time on Dec. 22 before breaking for the Christmas holidays. Upon its return, ECU will head to Myrtle Beach. S.C. to face Coastal Carolina (Dec. 28) before ringing in the New Year at Clemson (Jan. 3).
With their 13-game non-conference schedule complete, the Pirates will open Conference USA play at home against Tulane on Jan. 7, their first of two games against the Green Wave. East Carolina will also play Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss and UCF in a home-and-home series as part of its 16-game C-USA slate.
The Pirates only have three home games in January, the final of which comes on Jan. 28 against national runner-up Memphis. The game against Memphis is sandwiched between a trio of games in Texas. In a 10-day span the Pirates have three games in the Lone Star state against Houston (Jan. 21), SMU (Jan. 24) and Rice (Jan. 31).
February has the Pirates hosting four its five home-and-home series opponents as well as 2008 NIT participant UAB in the final home game of the year on Feb. 28. ECU will also visit CBI Champion Tulsa on Feb. 21.
The 2009 Conference USA Tournament will be held March 11-14 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn. This will be the fifth consecutive season that the conference tournament has been held in the city.