During the 2013-2014 college basketball season, Rice will only face one team that made the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
Rice Coach Ben Braun announced his team’s schedule on Thursday. The non-conference portion of the schedule is long on Texas opponents, but short on teams coming off exceptional seasons.
Harvard is the only opponent who made the Big Dance. The Crimson visit Tudor Fieldhouse on Jan. 4. Another Ivy foe, Princeton, makes the trip to Rice the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Rice does play three Texas flagship schools. The Owls visit Texas A&M Nov. 15, play at Texas Dec. 30 and face Houston on Dec. 21 at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston. That game is part of a doubleheader with Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M following.
“It is good to have Texas A&M back on our schedule and we look forward to playing two of the top Ivy teams,” Braun said in a news release “Princeton has been to the NCAA Tournament 24 times and many consider Harvard to be a potential top-20 team this season. Also, we have had some of our most exciting games against the Cougars and look forward to continuing our rivalry.”
The Owls struggled with an inexperienced team last season. Rice went 5-26, losing all 15 games played away from Tudor Fieldhouse. That schedule included a trip to Temple, and a game against Georgia Tech at the DirecTV classic in Anaheim, Calif.
Rice doesn’t face an A-10 or ACC team next season. The road trips will mostly be much shorter, with games at Texas A&M Corpus-Christi and Houston Baptist. The Owls do venture to California for the Cable Car Classic Thanksgiving weekend, but that field has not been announced.
The season opens is at home against St. Thomas Nov. 9, an NAIA cross-city opponent. Rice lost to the Celts in last year’s season opener. Other nonconference home games are Southeast Louisiana, South Alabama and Northwood.
Rice has 16 conference games against 15 different opponents. The only C-USA team Rice plays twice is Louisiana Tech. The Owls face several new C-USA foes starting with a Jan. 9 and 11 visits by Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
“It will be the first chance for our fans to see a lot of new teams at home, including non-conference games with top Ivy League programs as well as league newcomers Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana Tech and North Texas,” Braun said.
Rice also will make its first Conference USA trips to UTSA, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and Middle Tennessee State.
Perhaps the premiere game of the conference docket is Jan. 16 at Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles made the NIT quarterfinals last season.
The full schedule:
Nov. 9 - St. Thomas
Nov. 12 - Southeastern Louisiana
Nov. 15 - at Texas A&M
Nov. 20 - at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Nov. 23 - Princeton
Nov. 29 - at Cable Car Classic (Santa Clara, Calif.)
Nov. 30 - at Cable Car Classic (Santa Clara, Calif.)
Dec. 4 - at Houston Baptist
Dec. 7 - South Alabama
Dec. 19 - Northwood
Dec. 21 - vs. Houston (Toyota Center)
Dec. 30 - at Texas
Jan. 4 - Harvard
Jan. 9 - FIU ^
Jan. 11 - Florida Atlantic ^
Jan. 16 - at Southern Miss ^
Jan. 18 - at Tulane ^
Jan. 23 - Marshall ^
Jan. 25 - Charlotte ^
Jan. 30 - at UTSA ^
Feb. 1 - at UTEP ^
Feb. 6 - North Texas ^
Feb. 8 - Tulsa ^
Feb. 15 - at Louisiana Tech ^
Feb. 20 - at Old Dominion ^
Feb. 22 - at East Carolina ^
Feb. 27 - UAB ^
March 4 - at Middle Tennessee ^
March 6 - Louisiana Tech ^
March 11-15 - Conference USA Championship (El Paso, Texas)
(^ means Conference USA game)