LOUDONVILLE, NY -- A portion of Siena Basketball's 2017-18 non-conference schedule has been revealed with the announcement of the Saints' inclusion in the Fifth Annual Gotham Classic. Siena will play four games over a two-week span in the five-team event, traveling to face Louisville, Memphis, and Bryant, while hosting crosstown rival UAlbany in the annual Albany Cup showdown.
All five participating teams will each play four games as part of the tournament, in facing each of the other squads once. Louisville and Memphis will each host three home games, before squaring off in the Gotham Classic's showcase matchup on Dec. 16 at noon at Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile Siena, Bryant and UAlbany will each host one home game as part of a round robin between the three teams.
The Saints begin play in the Gotham Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 6 when they take on perennial national power Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The matchup will mark Siena's first contest in the Bluegrass State in more than 60 years, dating back to an 83-74 loss at Murray State on Jan. 20, 1956. The Saints have split two previous meetings with the Cardinals, including a 78-71 victory in Louisville on Dec. 10, 1953 in a game where Siena converted a school-record 44 free throws. The programs most recently met in the Second Round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament where the No. 1 overall seed Cardinals edged the Saints 79-72 in a postseason classic in Dayton, Ohio. Louisville posted a 25-9 overall record this past season, advancing to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals are expected to return three of their top-four scorers from a team which finished 10th in the final 2016-17 AP Top-25 Poll, and 14th in the last USA Today Coaches' Poll.
Siena then returns home to host UAlbany as part of the annual Albany Cup doubleheader on Saturday, Dec. 9, featuring the women's game at 5 p.m., followed by the men's matchup at 7:30 p.m. at the Times Union Center. The men's programs will be squaring off for the 54th time, with the Saints leading the all-time series between the crosstown foes 30-23, which includes a 10-6 advantage since the rivalry was rekindled following the Great Danes elevation to the Division I ranks in 2000. UAlbany recorded a 21-14 record last winter, and received a berth into the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Great Danes project to welcome back their top-five scorers and nine letterwinners from last year's squad.
Siena battles Bryant on Sunday, Dec. 17 in Smithfield, Rhode Island. The programs met once previously on Nov. 21, 2015, with the Saints prevailing 78-59 to capture the 2K Classic Smithfield Subregional Championship at the Chase Athletic Center. The Bulldogs tallied a 12-20 overall record last season, including an even 9-9 mark in the Northeast Conference. Bryant is set to return four of its top-six scorers this season.
Siena wraps up play in the Gotham Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 20 when they travel to face Memphis at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. The Tigers have won two of the three previous meetings between the programs, which are set to match up for the third time in the past decade. Siena won the initial meeting between the schools, 72-59 on Jan. 21, 1953. Nationally ranked Memphis squads have captured the last two meetings, with the then second ranked Tigers defeating the Saints 102-58 at FedExForum on Jan. 3, 2008, and a 21st ranked Memphis team besting Siena 87-60 on Nov. 28, 2013 in the Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Tigers posted a 19-13 overall record this past winter, including an even 9-9 mark in the American Athletic Conference.
Siena is coming off a 2016-17 campaign in which the Saints won 13 of their final 19 contests, culminating in the program's first MAAC Championship Game appearance in seven years. Siena posted a 17-17 overall record last season, and tied for third in the MAAC with a 12-8 league mark. Highlighting Siena's returnees are rising junior captain and MAAC All-Tournament Team selection Nico Clareth, who averaged 13.7 points per game last season, and rising sophomore Ahsante Shivers, who started 15 contests.
Siena's complete 2017-18 non-conference schedule will be released in the near future. 2017-18 Siena Basketball season tickets are on-sale now, and can be purchased by contacting the Siena Fan Relations Management Center during traditional business hours Monday through Friday at (518) 487-2202, online at sienasaints.com/tickets, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The Gotham Classic is produced by the Gazelle Group of Princeton, N.J. The Gazelle Group is a sports marketing firm, specializing in event production and management, client representation, and sponsorship consulting. Gazelle produces numerous nationally-recognized events, such as the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, the Legends Classic, and the College Basketball Invitational presented by Five Four. For more information on the Gazelle Group, please visit gazellegroup.com.
The Northeast Conference (NEC) is the sponsoring conference of the Gotham Classic. Entering its 37th season, the NEC is a NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. For more information on the NEC, visit the official website at www.northeastconference.org or follow on Twitter @NECsports.