Coach Casey Alexander understands that getting the Lipscomb basketball program on the map requires the Bisons to play brand-name programs. Thursday’s unveiling of Lipscomb’s 2017-18 season schedule showed that the Bisons will have plenty of chances to make a splash when the season rolls around in November.
Included in Lipscomb’s impressive non-conference schedule are trips to Alabama (Nov. 15), Texas (Nov. 18) and Tennessee (Dec. 9). The Vols survived a scare from Lipscomb in Knoxville last December, although the Bisons gained some redemption by beating the SEC’s Missouri Tigers with an 81-76 road victory two weeks later.
The Bisons will also pay a visit to the U.S. Naval Academy on Dec. 21 before closing out the calendar year with a trip to Purdue (Dec. 30), fresh off its Sweet Sixteen run in last year’s NCAA tournament.
The non-conference slate also offers plenty of local flavor. The Bisons will make the short drive to Belmont for the storied “Battle of the Boulevard” rivalry on Nov. 27, before hosting the Bruins one week later on Dec. 4. Belmont has dominated the series in recent years, claiming victories in each of the last 11 meetings.
The Bisons will also take on Tennessee State on Dec. 2 in North Nashville before hosting the local NAIA Fisk Bulldogs to open the new year on Jan. 3. Lipscomb set numerous program records in a 126-43 thrashing of the Bulldogs last season.
Another interesting wrinkle to the schedule includes a home-and-home series with one of Lipscomb’s sister schools, Abilene Christian. The two institutions are connected through their affiliation with the Churches of Christ, but the series will likely be anything but friendly. The Bisons will take on the Wildcats in Abilene on Nov. 20 and then bring the matchup home to Allen Arena on Dec. 17.
The Bisons will open ASUN action by traveling to Kennesaw State on Jan. 6. Lipscomb will host each of its ASUN foes at Allen Arena throughout January and February, before beginning ASUN tournament play on Feb. 26.
Lipscomb is coming off its best season in recent memory, having finished 20-13 with a loss in the ASUN tourney semifinals. Apart from Josh Williams, Lipscomb returns all of its major contributors from last year’s squad, including leading-scorer Garrison Mathews (20.4 PPG). The team will also receive a shot in the arm with the addition of two transfers – Matt Rose (Samford) and Andrew Fleming (Chattanooga) – along with a trio of freshmen in Ahsan Asadullah, Zack Flener and Greg Jones.
The depth of its roster – paired with a tough non-conference slate – gives the Bisons an opportunity to improve their Rating Percentage Index (RPI) before ASUN play begins. Last season, Lipscomb ranked 190 out of 351 NCAA Division I programs in RPI, traditionally used to determine the best teams based on quality wins and strength of schedule.
If the Bisons can pull an upset or two in non-conference play and have a solid showing in the ASUN, March could bring plenty of excitement for the Lipscomb faithful.
Lipscomb’s entire 2017-18 schedule can be viewed at the Lipscomb Athletics website.
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics