TAMPA - The University of South Florida has announced its 2011 non-conference men's basketball schedule, which includes eight teams that participated in the postseason last year, including potentially two Final Four teams, as well as a game at the University of Kansas.
The Bulls could potentially battle a pair of NCAA Final Four teams in the non-conference. Pending victories, USF would play the University of Kentucky in the Hall of Fame Classic on Nov. 20 in Springfield, Mass., followed by a trip to Virginia Commonwealth on Nov. 30. Then, on Dec. 3, the Bulls travel to Lawrence, Kan., to face the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse.
Due to a $35.6 million renovation of the Bulls' on-campus court, the Sun Dome, USF will play its home games at local venues this season, including the St. Pete Times Forum, the University of Tampa and the Lakeland Center.
USF opens the 2011 non-conference season with a pair of local games in the 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, an annual NCAA men's basketball exempt tournament sponsored by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Bulls host the Vermont Catamounts, who were 23-9 a year ago and ended the year with a spot in the NIT, on Nov. 12 at the University of Tampa, then turn around to face Marist on Nov. 14 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Bulls then travel to the Lakeland Center to play Florida Southern on Nov. 16.
Coach Stan Heath & Co. first hit the road to compete in a pair of games at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. On Nov. 19, USF will battle Old Dominion, a team that lost to Butler in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March. The Bulls will then match up with either Kentucky or Penn State on Nov. 20 in the final day of the tournament. Kentucky lost to National Champion Connecticut in the NCAA Final Four and Penn State made an appearance in the Tournament.
USF wraps up the month of November with three return games in Georgia Southern (Nov. 23 - at the St. Pete Times Forum), Florida Atlantic (Nov. 26 - at University of Tampa) and at Virginia Commonwealth (Nov. 30). The Bulls were 2-1 against these teams last year, including an overtime victory over NCAA Final Four team VCU (60-59), and a 76-63 win against Georgia Southern. USF dropped the game against FAU, a team that played in the postseason NIT, 50-42.
December provides another month of tough competition, beginning with a Dec. 3 game in Allen Fieldhouse against the Kansas Jayhawks, a team that was 35-3 last season and played in the Elite 8.
After a home game against the Florida A&M Rattlers (Dec. 11 at University of Tampa), the Bulls will visit Auburn on Dec. 15. USF defeated the Tigers, 61-49, in Tampa a season ago.
In the last two games of the non-conference schedule - against Cleveland State and Southern Miss - USF will look to avenge a pair of losses from a season ago. The CSU Vikings, who played in the 2011 NIT, come to the St. Pete Times Forum on Dec. 19 and the Bulls travel to Hattiesburg to play the Golden Eagles on Dec. 22.
The 2011-12 BIG EAST Conference schedule will be announced later this fall.