Georgia State will open its men’s basketball season at Duke on Nov. 9, according to coach Ron Hunter. The game will be televised by ESPN on one of its channels, Hunter said.
Georgia State will receive $75,000 for the game. As if playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium weren’t tough enough, the Panthers’ next game will be at BYU on Nov. 13 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Those games were two of several that Hunter could confirm on Tuesday. He said more of the schedule could be released in a few more days. The full schedule likely won’t be released until Georgia State resolves if it will be in the Colonial Athletic Association or Sun Belt Conference in the fall.
Hunter had already begun putting together a challenging non-conference schedule before the CAA announced on Tuesday that the Panthers won’t be allowed to play in the conference tournament because they are moving to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013-14.
Hunter said he wanted tough games for two reasons: he wanted to show fans where the program is headed, and he wanted to test a team that will feature nine freshmen or sophomores.
The Blue Devils have won four national championships and played for the title 10 times. They went 27-7 last year and were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Hunter has never coached and Georgia State has never played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, considered one of the most intimidating home courts in all of sports.
The next game may be easier, but not by much.
The Cougars went 26-9 last year and played in the NCAA tournament for the sixth consecutive year. BYU is one of four host schools in the tournament, joining FSU, Notre Dame and Saint Joseph’s.
Georgia State (22-12 last year) will host the next round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Nov. 19, 20, and 21. It will be the team’s first home games. Future Sun Belt partner South Alabama and Tennessee State, coached by former GSU player and assistant coach Travis Williams, are two of the teams that will participate. Hunter said there will be two games a day for three days at the Sports Arena.
The Panthers will also host East Carolina.
Other than the games against Duke, BYU and the Coaches vs. Cancer games at the Sports Arena, Georgia State’s schedule could remain in flux because of the conference uncertainty. The Sun Belt plays 20 conference games, compared to the CAA’s 18, which takes away two open slots.
“I think our fan base is getting excited,” Hunter said. “Yesterday had nothing to do with this. I would have played Duke regardless.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu