Coach Will Wade's UTC Mocs fill dance card

Coach Will Wade's UTC Mocs fill dance card

July 22nd, 2014 by Gene Henley in Sports - College

UTC men's basketball coach Will Wade directs guard Alex Bran (14) during a game in this file photo.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

After a number of headaches and drawbacks due to some new NCAA scheduling rules, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's basketball program was able to release their 2014-2015 schedule Wednesday.

The University of Georgia, which finished third in the Southeastern Conference last season, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham highlight the Mocs' 17-game home slate.

The Bulldogs haven't played in Chattanooga since the 1985 National Invitational Tournament, while it'll be UAB's first trip since Dec. 16, 1997.

"I think we upped the ante with the schedule this season," UTC coach Will Wade said. "There were three things I wanted: We wanted to be able to host some nonconference games; we wanted to be able to increase the presence in the state; and we wanted an attractive home schedule with the best possible opponents, and we have that with Georgia and UAB. So we checked off all three boxes we wanted to accomplish."

UTC is in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament this season. The Mocs will travel to Wisconsin and Butler for the on-campus portion, then will host the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland event on November 26-27, with Coastal Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe and Robert Morris coming to McKenzie Arena.

The Badgers become the fourth opponent in the previous four seasons that advanced to the NCAA Final Four the previous season. Butler and Kentucky were a part of the 2011 Final Four; Kansas was there in 2012.

"We're excited to be a part of the Battle 4 Atlantis," Wade said. "Wisconsin is a very tough team, and Butler's a perennial mid-major power with a pair of recent Final Four appearances and a tremendous atmosphere. We're excited to do both games on the same trip, so we're able to be economical with our time.

"It's also great that we get to host two games [in the tournament], which bolsters our home schedule."

The home schedule is the biggest since the Mocs had 18 home games in 2012-2013.

Wade promised last year that this season's schedule would be devoid of non-Division I competition, but due to some teams backing out of contracts, the Mocs will again face teams from lower classifications. The Mocs begin the season on Nov. 14 against Hiwassee College and later play Montreat on Dec. 8.

Wade was able to begin forging some in-state games as well as some travel-friendly trips this season. The Mocs host Lipscomb and will make trips to Kennesaw State, Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Tech -- each is within two hours of Chattanooga.

Radford, which the Mocs traveled to in 2013-2014, will return the trip in 2015-2016, while Tennessee Tech is also expected to come to Chattanooga next season.

The Mocs will play an 18-game conference schedule, with each of the nine members of the revamped Southern Conference, which lost Appalachian State, Davidson, Elon and Georgia Southern, and added East Tennessee State University, Mercer and Virginia Military Institute, coming to McKenzie.

The Mocs will play a pre-Christmas conference game at The Citadel, while the SoCon slate comes in full swing on Jan. 3 with their home opener against Furman.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.