Penn men’s basketball unveiled its 2016-17 schedule on Monday, one which will look quite a bit different than in previous years.
The 27-game schedule features 13 games at the Palestra, including the standard seven versus Ivy opponents. The season will open on the road at Robert Morris on Nov. 11 and conclude with a showdown with Harvard at the Palestra March 4.
“I am very pleased with how our schedule came together for this season,” second-year coach Steve Donahue said in a statement. “A challenging non-conference schedule will provide us with tremendous opportunities to make some noise this season.”
Notably, the Quakers’ final game of the regular season will be against an opponent other than Princeton for the first time since 1992. The arch-rivals will still kick off their Ivy schedule against each other — on Jan. 6 at Jadwin Gym — but will play the second game earlier than usual on Feb. 7. This means that the game will be played while Penn students are on campus rather than away for spring break, as had been the case in recent years.
“I think my favorite part about the schedule is that, for the first time in seven years, we will play Princeton at home while classes are in session,” Donahue said. “It is vitally important to me that our students get to experience one of the best rivalries in all of college sports.”
“I’m excited to be able to see an in-conference game that will hopefully garner the same full house and enthusiasm of a Big 5 matchup,” College junior and basketball fan Jack Becker said.
The other must-see game at the Palestra this season will be the home opener on Nov. 29 versus defending NCAA champion Villanova. The Quakers’ Big 5 rivals were victorious in the teams’ 2015-16 meeting, beating Penn 77-57 en route to a 35-win campaign that culminated in Kris Jenkins’ iconic buzzer beater in Houston.
In other Big 5 action, St. Joseph’s will visit the Palestra on Jan. 21, while the Red and Blue will travel to face Temple on Dec. 3 and La Salle on Jan. 25.
The Quakers will make two swings through the state of Florida, squaring off against Miami on Nov. 19 in the second game of the season before returning for a tilt in Orlando versus Central Florida on Dec. 12. The Quakers and Knights have faced off just once before, an 81-64 UCF win in December of 2008.
As an interesting footnote, the Palestra will play host to Big Ten action this season when Michigan State and Penn State face off on Jan. 7. The Spartans, after winning their conference championship a season ago, were promptly dispatched in the first round of March Madness by 15-seed Middle Tennessee State. The Nittany Lions, the game’s home team, are coming off a middling 16-16 season in which they finished tenth in the conference.
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