Tuesday, August 08, 2006

WKU Hilltoppers Release Schedule

The Tops released their schedule yesterday, and it is impressive. Five NCAA Tourney teams pepper the non-conference slate, including the defending NCAA Champion Florida Gators. WKU will open the season on the road at Kennesaw State and Georgia before coming home to host Towson and Tennessee State in the opening portion of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Toppers will then travel to Vegas to take on aforementioned Florida and Ball State. They also host perennial NCAA teams UAB and Southern Illinois as well as cross-state rival Eastern Kentucky. Division II opponent Kentucky Wesleyan also will visit Diddle Arena. They will play other non-conference roadies at Montana, Tennessee, and Nebraska. That is a pretty tough non-conference slate.

The Sun Belt has grown to 13 teams with the addition of Florida Atlantic and Louisiana-Monroe. This prompted a realignment of the East and West divisions. The conference now is divided like this:

Florida Atlantic
Florida International
Middle Tennessee
South Alabama
Western Kentucky

Arkansas State
Arkansas-Little Rock
New Orleans
North Texas

This results in an 18-game Sun Belt slate. WKU plays everyone in the East division and North Texas twice this season. Also, there will be three byes in the conference tourney: both divisional champions and the team with the best record apart from the division winners. The other first round games will be played on campus sites at the higher seeded team on February 28. The rest of the tournament is at UL-Lafayette, March 4-6.

A full breakdown of WKU opponents will occur sometime in late September or early October.