The wait is over, Spartan fans. Basketball season is finally here.
UNCG men’s basketball returns to action Tuesday, Nov. 6, when the team travels across town to face off against local rival N.C. A&T.
Last season was one for the record books, with 27 wins, a Southern Conference title and a near bracket-busting upset in the NCAA Tournament. But the Spartans are hungry for more.
“Our motto is ‘No finish line,'” said Head Coach Wes Miller. “Even though we accomplished a goal, there was an immediate sense that there was still work to do.”
The Spartans will be put to the test early with matchups against two preseason top-25 opponents: LSU on Nov. 9 and Kentucky on Dec. 1.
“Any time you get a chance to play against the top teams in the country, there’s some excitement there – not just to compete, but to find out where you are,” Miller said. “These two games will show us where we stand.”
The competition may be stiff, but the Spartans have become used to these big-time nonconference contests. Last year, UNCG beat ACC opponent NC State in Raleigh. And who can forget the NCAA Tournament matchup against Gonzaga, when the Spartans were minutes away from their own “Cinderella” story?
“This returning group now has the confidence that they can play with anybody, and that they belong on the national stage,” Miller said.
But to get back to the Big Dance, the Spartans will have to focus on SoCon play, which starts Dec. 22 when they travel to Alabama to take on Samford.
Just last week, the Spartans were selected as the SoCon favorite in the coaches’ and media preseason polls – the first year that UNCG has been picked to win the conference outright since the SoCon went away from divisional play five years ago.
It’s an exciting time to be a Spartan. And fans are rallying around the team like never before.
On Friday, Nov. 16, Spartan fans will “storm the streets” and participate in a one-mile spirit march from campus to the Greensboro Coliseum to cheer on the team at the home opener against Johnson & Wales.
“The fans, the student body and the UNCG community as a whole have really touched our program,” Miller said. “We take representing UNCG and the city of Greensboro very seriously, every time we step on the floor. We want to go out there and make the people who support us really proud.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Carlos Morales, UNCG Athletics