Men’s basketball releases 2007 schedule

The 2007 USF men’s basketball schedule was released Wednesday, highlighted by early season match-ups against four in-state rivals and an 18-game Big East Conference slate to close out the year.

“Basketball fans in the Bay area will have an opportunity to see a host of outstanding teams and players,” coach Stan Heath said in a press release. “We will find out a lot about our team early. I expect the challenges in the non-conference to prepare us and make us a better basketball team as we enter Big East Conference play.”

After opening the season at home against Cleveland State, USF will head up north to take on the Buffalo Bulls. After the Battle of the Bulls, USF returns to the Sunshine State where the team will face four Florida teams in five games. At the inaugural Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, USF will take on Rhode Island, Florida Atlantic and Florida State. Following the tournament, the Bulls will host East Carolina before facing Florida International on the road and Central Florida at home.

After defeating Rutgers 62-40 last season, USF will open Big East Conference play at home against the Scarlet Knights on Jan. 2. The Bulls’ tough conference schedule in 2007 features road games against Marquette, Villanova and Georgetown, all of which made the NCAA Tournament last season, with the Hoyas advancing to the Final Four round. USF will host three more NCAA tournament teams in Louisville, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. USF will have home-and-home series against Rutgers, Syracuse and Seton Hall. The Bulls will close out the season at home against Notre Dame. Last season, USF defeated the Fighting Irish 69-63 at the Sun Dome. Notre Dame was ranked No. 21 at the time.

“The Big East is very strong again this year,” Heath said in a press release. “Several teams will be ranked very high and there is always that surprise team that you don’t expect. Our fans will enjoy seeing several premier teams in Tampa, and our team will be ready for the challenge.”

As part of the Big East’s new agreements with its television partners, all 144

regular-season league games will be televised in 2007. ESPN2 will broadcast USF’s conference opener against the Scarlet Knights, along with its Jan. 9 game against Pittsburgh. Other television broadcasts will be announced in the

coming weeks.