The schedule for the 2006-2007 Harding Bisons basketball team has been released, and there are only a few notable changes from recent years.
The Harding squad will meet the D-I Lipscomb Bisons in an exhibition on November 9th in Nashville. Lipscomb was 21-11 last season, their first winning mark since making the jump to D-I. Their 15-5 record in the Atlantic Sun conference tied them with Belmont for the regular season crown, but their Battle of the Boulevard rivals defeated them in the A-Sun championship game. Lipscomb went on to the NIT and lost to UTEP in the first round.
The non-conference schedule includes familiar GSC East foes Alabama-Huntsville and North Alabama. UAH is coming off of their best season in recent memory, and both are perennial contenders in their division. Drury, a solid D-II athletic school from Missouri, is also familiar, with the teams having last played in January 2005.
This year’s schedule has fewer cupcake opponents, with only Champion Baptist and Central Baptist on the docket as non-D-II opponents. The regular season-opening St. Edward’s Classic in Austin, Texas and the Hoop-N-Surf Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, should feature all Division-II teams, making for as many as 10 same-division matchups.
Gulf South Conference play will feature a slight, and perhaps welcome change for the Bisons, with only 14 games on the schedule, compared to 16 in previous years. The University of Central Arkansas’ jump to the D-I Southland Conference left only 8 teams in the GSC West (and 16 in the GSC, still D-II’s largest conference), requiring fewer games of the Bisons in divisional play.
The Bisons finished 16-11 last season overall and 7-9 in GSC play, missing the GSC and NCAA Tournaments. They hope to improve upon that mark this year and return to postseason play. Hopefully I will be able to follow the team this year with some comments, but I’ll be in graduate school at home at UT-Chattanooga. Sadly, for the first time since I entered Harding, I won’t be able to attend many games. The Lipscomb exhibition and the UAH road game are possibilities, but my schedule will be packed.