31st Season of A-Sun Hoops Tips Off on Friday

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

MACON, Ga. - For the 31st season, men's basketball returns in the Atlantic Sun and the opening week features two tournaments and three matchups pitting A-Sun schools against nationally-ranked foes.

Last season's opening weekend produced an unprecedented string of upsets for the conference as Gardner-Webb and Mercer defeated top-25 opponents and Belmont defeated Cincinnati within a four-day span leading to the national spotlight shining on the conference.

The Bruins, the three-time champions, begin pursuit of their fourth title with a pair of home games, opening with Samford on Friday night followed by the Ohio Valley champion Austin Peay on Monday night.

Jacksonville, the runner-up to Belmont takes on two opponents from the BCS conferences, starting with a home game against Florida State on Saturday night. The Dolphins hit the road next, heading to the nation's capital to take on No. 22 Georgetown. Last year, the Hoyas beat the Dolphins, 87-55, in early December.

Two other A-Sun schools face nationally-ranked foes, starting with Stetson traveling to Austin, Texas to face the No. 8 Longhorns on Friday. Two days later, USC Upstate takes on another traditional football program turned top-10 basketball school in No. 9 Notre Dame. Before taking on the Fighting Irish, the Spartans face SEC champion Georgia on Friday.

ETSU and Kennesaw State open play by partaking in tournaments. ETSU opens with Temple on Friday at the ESPN/CofC Tournament in Charleston, S.C. The tournament runs through Sunday. The Owls host the 100 Club Classic on Friday and Saturday. They start with Western Illinois and play either Maine or Northern Illinois on Saturday.

Fans can view the composite schedule for when their favorite teams play next or visit www.ASun.TV for when they can watch their team on the conference's broadband channel.