BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh head coach Brett Reed announced the Mountain Hawks’ 2012-13 schedule on Tuesday which is highlighted by nonleague trips to Baylor, Pittsburgh (for the NIT Season Tip-Off), North Texas and VCU. The Mountain Hawks will face at least six teams who advanced to national postseason tournaments a season ago, with the potential for three more. In addition, Lehigh will play at least four games on CBS Sports Network through the Patriot League’s national television package.
“This year’s schedule is a challenging one that will give us many opportunities to test ourselves, particularly early in the year,” said Reed.
The Mountain Hawks will play at least two NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago in Baylor and Virginia Commonwealth, who like Lehigh, advanced to the Third Round. Lehigh could also face NCAA squads Michigan, Kansas State, Virginia or Lamar in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Along with NCAA Tournament participants, Lehigh will play at least four other postseason squads: Robert Morris (CIT), Quinnipiac (CBI), American (CIT) and Bucknell (NIT). The Mountain Hawks could also face a number of additional teams who advanced to other postseason tournaments a season ago. They include Cleveland State (NIT) and Fairfield (CIT), along with Pittsburgh, Penn and Delaware (CBI).
Lehigh will play four games on CBS Sports Network as part of the Patriot League’s television package. Three are home, vs. Holy Cross (Jan. 12), Lafayette (Jan. 27) and Bucknell (Feb. 18), along with a road tilt at Bucknell (Jan. 23). Games at Lafayette (Feb. 24) and vs. Army (Mar. 2) could also be picked up as one of the league’s flex games.
The Mountain Hawks open the season at Big 12 foe Baylor on Nov. 9. The Bears finished 30-8 a season ago and advanced to the Sweet 16.
“Opening at Baylor is an interesting matchup because had we continued to advance in the NCAA Tournament last season, they would have been our opponent in the Sweet 16,” said Reed. “It’s nice to be able to measure where we are against a very strong program.”
Lehigh will then focus its attention to the NIT Season Tip-Off when it travels to Pittsburgh to face Robert Morris on Nov. 12 at the Petersen Events Center. The Colonials are coming off a stellar 26-11 season and NEC Championship Game appearance. Robert Morris went onto the CollegeInsider.com Tournament where it defeated Indiana State and Toledo before falling to Fairfield. It will mark Lehigh’s first-ever appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The following night, the Mountain Hawks will face either host Pittsburgh or Fordham in either the Regional Final or Consolation Game. The Panthers struggled last season, but turned it on down the stretch in finishing 22-17 while winning the College Basketball Invitational. Pitt defeated Wofford, Princeton and Butler to advance to the final where it beat Washington State in a three-game series. Should Lehigh play the Panthers on Nov. 13, the game would be played at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.
“This [tournament] is a new experience,” said Reed. “The competition is very strong and our placement in the field is strong as well, which is a representation of the national perspective for our program, with a strong returning nucleus of players and great optimism for the season. It will be a challenging pod because the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds for the entire tournament are at this one location. The opportunity to advance to Madison Square Garden is something every program would love the opportunity to do.”
Should the Mountain Hawks advance from the Pittsburgh pod, they’d play in New York City on Nov. 25 and 27 where it could face any number of talented teams like Michigan, Kansas State and Virginia (among others). If Lehigh falls in either of the first two games, it would play in a Subregional on Nov. 19 and 20. With four teams advancing, the remaining 12 are split into three regions of four teams, with three highest remaining seeds as hosts. As the #5 seed in the entire tournament, Lehigh would have a strong possibility of hosting games at Stabler Arena.
Following the NIT Season Tip-Off, Lehigh heads to Connecticut for games at Sacred Heart (Nov. 25) and Quinnipiac (Nov. 27). The Bobcats are coming off a CBI appearance, their third straight postseason berth for the perennial NEC power.
Lehigh will then head home to host Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday, Dec. 1.
“We hope our home opener will be well-attended,” said Reed. “There is also the possibility we’ll also have home games in the NIT, but Fairleigh Dickinson is our first guaranteed home game if we were to advance to Madison Square Garden.”
The Mountain Hawks remain home to host Atlantic 10 foe Fordham just three days later. The sides have split the last two meetings with each winning on the other’s home court. Last season, Lehigh turned a close game into an 18-point victory with a strong finish.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for our fans to see us challenged against an Atlantic 10 program that continues to improve, with a strong nucleus of returning players and a youth movement which continues to strengthen their roster,” said Reed.
Lehigh will head to Saint Francis (Pa.) on Dec. 8 then after a break for exams, travels to North Texas to face the Mean Green. A perennially strong program, North Texas has averaged 21 victories over its last six seasons and features NBA prospect Tony Mitchell who last season averaged 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game (as a freshman).
“North Texas is a strong program that’s had a tremendous amount of basketball success, particularly in recent history,” said Reed. “Mitchell is noted by many as perhaps being the most athletic player in all of college basketball; he has tremendous size and skill level. It will be a fantastic matchup of high quality players at the mid-major level (with Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum), one that’s certainly an exciting individual matchup as well as team matchup.”
Lehigh hosts Bryant and Muhlenberg on Dec. 29 and Jan. 8 with a big trip to VCU on Jan. 5 in between. New to the Atlantic 10, the Rams advanced to the Final Four just two seasons ago and followed it by winning the 2012 CAA Tournament Championship before defeating Wichita State in the NCAA Tournament.
Lehigh begins Patriot League play at home on Jan. 12 vs. Holy Cross, a game that will air on CBS Sports Network. The Mountain Hawks then travel to American (Jan. 16) before welcoming Colgate (Jan. 19), heading to Bucknell (Jan. 23) and hosting Lafayette (Jan. 26). Lehigh wraps up the first round of league play at Navy and Army on Jan. 30 and Feb. 3, respectively.
The Mountain Hawks will then go through the second round of league play, but at opposite sites.
“The Patriot League continues to establish itself as one of the stronger East Coast mid-major conferences,” said Reed. “That’s been reflected by a number of other programs seeking to join our league and continue to bolster it. But we also have existing membership that is very strong.
“Every game is well-coached with players who really battle in a playoff type atmosphere with a high degree of intensity,” said Reed. “It’s a pleasure to be able to coach in such a competitive league across the board, with so many talented athletes and talented basketball players as well.”
The Patriot League Quarterfinals are set for Wednesday, Mar. 6 and the semifinals on Saturday, Mar. 9 at 2 and 4:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. The Patriot League Championship Game will be played on Wednesday, Mar. 13 at 7:30 p.m., also on CBS Sports Network.
Season tickets go on sale Thursday, Oct. 11, and single-game tickets (including plush high-back courtside seats) for all home games go on sale Oct. 18. In addition, a limited number of tickets for the Pittsburgh region of the NIT Season Tip-Off will be sold through Lehigh’s ticket page at a later date. Those games will likely be sold out so fans are advised to purchase tickets before traveling to Pittsburgh.
The Patriot League enters into its 10th straight year in partnership with CBS Sports Network.
CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) is the 24-hour cable home of CBS Sports. The Network covers more than 350 live games annually, showcasing more than 30 men’s and women’s sports, in addition to a variety of studio shows, documentaries and original programs. CBSSN’s live programming is highlighted by college sports and also features professional lacrosse, Professional Bull Riding (PBR), the sports news and commentary show ROME, the weekly studio show NFL Monday QB and the Tim Brando Show. CBS Sports Network is available across the country through local cable, video and telco providers on Verizon FiOS Channel 94 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 643 (1643 in HD) and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 613 and Dish Network Channel 158. For more information on how to get CBS Sports Network, go to www.cbssportsnetwork.com.
Check back to Lehighsports.com for continued updates on the Lehigh men’s basketball team leading into a much-anticipated 2012-13 season.
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