NORMAN, Okla. Athletics director Joe Castiglione and head coach Jeff Capel announced Oklahoma’s 2006-07 men’s basketball schedule Saturday, a slate that features 29 regular season games, 16 regular season home contests, a trip to Hawaii for the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational and 12 games televised by national networks.
The Sooners’ home schedule will be highlighted by visits from Villanova (ranked No. 3 in last year’s final AP poll), Texas (No. 9), Kansas (No. 12), Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. OU’s featured road game will be against Alabama (ESPN) on New Year’s Day. The team’s annual appearance in the All-College Classic in Oklahoma City will take place on Dec. 21 against Tulsa (ESPN2).
Capel, who spent the last four years as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, will coach his first game as Sooners boss on Nov. 10 when OU hosts Norfolk State. It will mark the earliest season opener in school history. Another home game on Nov. 16 against Liberty will immediately precede OU’s trip to the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational (Nov. 20-22).
In the first round in Hawaii, the Sooners will face Memphis, an NCAA Tournament Elite Eight team last year that finished 33-4 overall and won the Conference USA regular season title with a 13-1 record. The game against the Tigers, who were ranked No. 4 in the final AP poll last season, will begin at 1:30 p.m. CST and be televised by ESPN2. OU will face either Georgia Tech or Purdue in the second round (ESPN or ESPNU) and DePaul, Kentucky, 2006 national finalist UCLA or tournament host Chaminade on the third day of action (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU).
Besides Norfolk State, Liberty and Villanova (Dec. 6 ESPN), other home non-conference opponents include TCU (Dec. 2), Coppin State (Dec. 9), UT Arlington (Dec. 16), SMU (Dec. 28) and Longwood (Jan. 30).
“Our schedule is very competitive,” said Capel. “We have some really attractive home games, obviously with a team like Villanova coming here and a team like SMU with its proximity. I’m excited about the All-College Classic and the Maui Invitational with that big-time field. Those will help us get prepared for Big 12 play.”
OU’s Big 12 Conference season will begin Jan. 6 at Texas Tech (ESPN Plus). League games at home will take place against Colorado (Jan. 10), Nebraska (Jan. 17), Baylor (Jan. 20 ESPN Plus), Texas Tech (Feb. 3 ESPN Plus), Oklahoma State (Feb. 7 ESPN Plus), Texas A&M (Feb. 17 ABC), Texas (Feb. 24 ESPN Plus) and Kansas (Feb. 26 ESPN). In addition to the conference opener at Texas Tech, Big 12 road games will be played at Texas (Jan. 13 ABC), Oklahoma State (Jan. 22 ESPN), Texas A&M (Jan. 27 ESPN), Baylor (Feb. 10 ESPN Plus), Iowa State (Feb. 13), Missouri (Feb. 20) and Kansas State (March 3 ABC).
Added Capel, “The league will be very interesting this year with so much turnover and so many new faces. But there are certainly a lot of talented young guys in this league and talented coaches.
“We’re excited about our schedule. It’s tough and demanding and I think it will help us improve.”
OU will play 12 or 13 games (depending on its third-round opponent in Hawaii) against teams who qualified for the postseason last year (eight or nine of those contests will be against 2006 NCAA Tournament teams).
The 2006-07 season unofficially gets underway when the Sooners host an exhibition game on Oct. 31 against Oklahoma Christian. A second home exhibition will be played Nov. 5 versus Central Missouri State.
Sooner Sports Network telecasts will be announced at a later date.