RIO GRANDE, Ohio — A pair of road tournaments, the 3rd Annual NAIA Division II Showcase and an exhibition contest against an NCAA Division I opponent from the Buckeye State highlight the University of Rio Grande’s 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule released Wednesday by head coach Ken French.
The RedStorm will also play a 15-game home slate which once again features the annual Bevo Francis Tournament, as well as a pair of familiar events – the Newt Oliver Coaches Classic and the Champions of Character Classic.
“I don’t think there’s any question that it’s a difficult schedule. We’ll be tested early and often, no doubt,” French said. “We open with Indiana Wesleyan – one of the top programs in the country – and it doesn’t get any easier. We head to Mount Vernon Nazarene the following week, then we’re home for the Bevo and a game against Shawnee State before going south to play in the DII Showcase over Thanksgiving week. Then we turn around and head to Point Park in our conference opener a few days after that – and that’s just November. Our work is cut out for us.”
The schedule begins on the weekend of November 3-4 with a trip to Marion, Ind. for Indiana Wesleyan University’s Caleb Dimmich Memorial. The RedStorm will face the perenially-strong host Wildcats in the season opener before squaring off with Goshen (Ind.) College the following night.
One week later, Rio will be part of Mount Vernon Nazarene’s Homecoming Classic and will face the host Cougars on Friday, Nov. 10. A showdown with either Shawnee State or Cardinal Stritch comes the following day.
The 35th Annual Bevo Francis Invitational Tournament opens the home portion of the schedule and features a matchup with Wilberforce University on Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. The tournament concludes on the 18th at 5 p.m. against either Mount Vernon Nazarene or Indiana University-Northwest.
A home date with rival Shawnee State on Nov. 21 precedes a Thanksgiving trip to Kingsport, Tenn. for the NAIA DII Showcase – an event in which the RedStorm will be serving as the host school. The two-day event, which is staged at the Meadowview Conference Resort & Convention Center, features teams from the River States Conference, the Appalachian Athletic Conference, the Wolvernine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, The Sun Conference and the Association of Independent Institutions.
The RedStorm will face Reinhardt (Ga.) University on the 25th at 11 a.m. and the University of Michigan-Dearborn on the 26th at 11 a.m.
River States Conference play begins on Nov. 29 with a trip to Pittsburgh, Pa. for a tussle with Point Park University (Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m.), while a visit from Carlow University opens the schedule in the final month of the calendar year on Dec. 2.
The annual Newt Oliver Coaches Classic, which celebrates the school’s legendary former coach and Rio Grande alums who are actively involved in coaching, is scheduled for Dec. 9, with Rio entertaining Marian (Ind.) University for a 4 p.m. tipoff.
The day begins with a women’s game between Rio Grande and Wilberforce at noon before the first of three boys’ high school games follows at 2 p.m. with South Webster squaring off with South Point. After the conclusion of the men’s game between Marian and Rio Grande, the Classic will wrap up with Oak Hill (OH) battling Point Pleasant (WV) at 6 p.m. and Ironton (OH) squaring off with Meigs (OH) in the 7:30 p.m. nightcap.
A conference tilt at home against Indiana University East (Dec. 12) comes before a trip to Ohio Christian on the 16th and an exhibition game against NCAA Division I Miami-Ohio of the Mid-American Conference on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m., in Oxford, Ohio.
The exhibition game against the Redhawks will be the first all-time meeting between the two schools.
The RedStorm will close out the 2017 portion of their schedule with matchups against Ohio University-Lancaster on Dec. 19 and Truett McConnell (Ga.) University on Dec. 29.
The contest against OU-Lancaster will be the annual Champions of Character Classic, a special 12:15 p.m. matinee game for local elementary school students, while the game against Truett McConnell will have a 4:30 p.m. tip and will close out the Hard Work Camp Middle School Holiday Tournament – a two-day event featuring teams from Logan (OH), Waverly (OH), Jackson (OH) and Barboursville (WV).
January begins with the team’s first three games on the road – vs. Brescia University (Jan. 4), Indiana University Southeast (Jan. 6) and West Virginia University Tech (Jan. 13). All are against conference foes.
The month concludes with four of six outings – all but one River States Conference tilts – at home. Rio hosts Alice Lloyd College and Midway University on the 16th and 18th, respectively, before traveling Asbury University on the 23rd.
Indiana University Kokomo and Cincinnati Christian University pay visits to Rio on the 25th and 27th, respectively, while a return trip to Shawnee State finishes out the month on the 30th.
The February slate begins with a home date against WVU-Tech on the 3rd, before a road trip to Indiana East on the 6th precedes dates against Ohio Christian and Point Park on the 10th and 13th, respectively, in the final home contests of the regular season.
The regular season closes with a trip to Carlow University on Feb. 17.
The RSC Tournament, which will be played at the site of the higher seeded team, is slated for Feb. 21, Feb. 24 and Feb. 27.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.