Game against defending champion Virginia highlights UMass men's basketball's non-conference schedule

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Editor's note: This story has been updated.

For his third year as the University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach, Matt McCall has put together an interesting non-conference schedule. It's a schedule that combines six New England rivals to a date with the defending NCAA Division I champion Virginia Cavaliers.

The Minutemen have released the non-conference portion of their 2019-20 schedule. Seven of the games will be played in the Mullins Center, while two games will be played at Mohegan Sun, as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tournament.

UMass will play four games in the Hall of Fame tournament. The highlight of that tourney is a Nov. 23 date against the reigning national champion Cavaliers on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Connecticut.

The Minutemen will play Central Connecticut and Rider to start the tournament, and will then play in the Naismith Bracket championship or consolation on Sunday, Nov. 24. The other game in the Naismith Bracket features Arizona State and St. John's.

UMass will open its season on Oct. 29, with an exhibition game against Division III Western New England. The regular season begins a week later when UMass Lowell makes its return to the Mullins Center.

The schedule for the Atlantic 10 Conference games will be determined at a later date. UMass will play home-and-home against former Williams coach Dave Paulsen's George Mason Patriots, against Dayton, LaSalle, Rhode Island and former UMass coach Travis Ford's Saint Louis Billikens.

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UMass will play Duquesne, George Washington, Saint Joseph's and Virginia Commonwealth at home, while traveling to Richmond, Fordham, Davidson and St. Bonaventure.

Here's a look at some of the bigger early-season games on the UMass schedule:

Tuesday, Nov. 5 vs. UMass Lowell: Pat Duquette brings sophomore guard Bryce Daley and the River Hawks back to the Mullins Center for the fourth straight year. Last year, the River Hawks dropped an 83-75 decision and finished up 15-17. Lowell has its top three scorers back and five newcomers.

Saturday, Nov. 9, at Fairfield: The Stags have a new coach, former Rutgers assistant Jay Young. The Minutemen haven't played Fairfield since the 1963-64 season. The Stags have former UMass assistant Patrick Sellers on the staff.

Tuesday, Nov. 12, vs. Northeastern: Bill Coen's team lost to Kansas in the first round of the NCAA D-I Tournament and is one of several tourney teams on the docket. The Huskies were 23-11 last year. UMass has won 37 of the 55 games between the two.

Saturday, Nov. 23, vs. Virginia at Mohegan Sun: This is the biggest name on the UMass schedule. Coach Tony Bennett's reigning national champions did lose their three top scorers from last year. These teams last met in 1996 in the Maui Invitational. Coming off a Final Four run of its own, UMass — coached by Bruiser Flint — lost to Virginia 75-68.

Wednesday, Dec. 4, vs. South Carolina: Frank Martin brings the Gamecocks to Amherst for the back end of a home-and-home that started in the 2017-18 season. McCall's first UMass team gave Carolina all it could handle before falling 76-70. Chuck Martin, who coached in Amherst in 2000-2001, is on the Carolina staff.

Ivy League week, Saturday, Dec. 7 at Harvard and Wednesday, Dec. 11 vs. Yale: The Harvard-UMass series has turned into one of the more entertaining among New England teams. Each team has won three games in their last six meetings. Yale, meanwhile, is coming off an NCAA tourney appearance where the Bulldogs lost to LSU 79-74. Coach James Jones' team is in a rebuilding mode.


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