POSTED: Monday, June 4, 2012 - 2:56pm
UPDATED: Monday, June 4, 2012 - 6:35pm
After a 17-year absence from the UTEP men’s basketball schedule, Arizona is back on for the 2012-13 season, fortifying the most difficult slate in school history.
The Miners and the Wildcats will square off on Thursday, Nov. 15 in Tucson, with Arizona set to play a return game in the Don Haskins Center during the 2014-15 season.
With the addition of Arizona to the schedule, UTEP will play a minimum of 14 games, and as many as 17 including the conference tournament, versus teams that ranked in the top-80 of the final 2011-12 RPI. The most top-80 teams that they have faced in a single season previously was 13 twice, in 2003-04 and 2009-10. In their first two seasons under coach Tim Floyd, the Miners played a total of 20 games against RPI Top-80 squads.
“The players that we’re recruiting want to play this type of schedule,” Floyd said. “We recognize that we’ll still have one of the youngest teams in the country, and we’re probably not fully equipped to take on this type of schedule at this point. However, we will see the long-term benefits in years to come.
“I especially want to thank the University of Arizona for recognizing the history that our two institutions have had. During a time where basketball attendance has fallen six percent nationally, I think it’s important that we take a look at what the stockholders, our fans, really want, and I know our institution appreciates this new relationship that we’re forging with the University of Arizona. Their coach, Sean Miller, has done an incredible job. This has a chance to be a special Arizona team, and one that will certainly help prepare us moving forward into conference play.”
“Coach Floyd has taken a real aggressive approach to scheduling and has put together one of the most challenging slates in the country,” UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull said. “We have several great teams coming to the Haskins Center this year including UNLV, Oregon, Memphis and NM State. I know coach wants to bring back the UTEP gameday excitement he experienced as an assistant coach in the ‘70s and ‘80s. With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce that we will be dropping our lowest season ticket price this season, making our games more affordable for families.”
Season ticket information is forthcoming.
UTEP and Arizona have faced one another 89 times, but not since Dec. 16, 1995, when the third-ranked Wildcats scored a 90-70 victory in Tucson. UTEP and Arizona were joint members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1969-78.
The Miners played the Wildcats at least once annually in 40 of 43 seasons that they fielded a team from 1935-78.
One of the most memorable wins in UTEP history came on March 13, 1987 in Tucson, when the Miners outlasted the Wildcats in overtime, 98-91, to advance in the NCAA Tournament. UTEP prevailed despite having three starters foul out in regulation of that game.
UTEP also topped the Wildcats in overtime on Dec. 28, 1983 at the Special Events Center in El Paso, 51-49, to win the Sun Carnival Classic championship – part of a 15-0 start to the season.
Arizona has participated in the NCAA Tournament 27 times and won the national title in 1997. The Wildcats were 23-12 last season, including 12-6 in the Pac-12 Conference, and played in the postseason NIT.
Possible opponents on UTEP’s 2012-13 schedule that ended the year in the top-80 of the RPI (collegerpi.com) include Memphis (16), UNLV (18), Vanderbilt (19), Southern Miss (21), Gonzaga (25), Colorado State (29), Marshall (44), Oral Roberts (51), UCF (54), West Virginia (57), NM State twice (59), Oregon (63), Davidson (64) and Arizona (76).
The Miners are slated to host Marshall, Memphis, NM State, Oral Roberts, Oregon, UCF and UNLV, and play at Arizona, Colorado State, NM State and Southern Miss in 2012-13. UTEP will also host Idaho, which had a better RPI than the Miners last season. UTEP will play three games in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, which features four 2012 NCAA Tournament teams (Davidson, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and West Virginia) as well as Oklahoma.
Memphis is no. 14 in ESPN.com’s preseason top-25, with Arizona no. 17, Gonzaga no. 20 and UNLV no. 23. ESPN analyst Dick Vitale has Arizona no. 12, Memphis no. 15, Gonzaga no. 29, UNLV no. 30 and Oregon no. 37 in his preseason top-40 rankings. Seven teams on the 2012-13 UTEP schedule – Arizona, Colorado State, Davidson, Gonzaga, Memphis, NM State and UNLV -- are projected to land in the NCAA Tournament with Marshall, Oregon and West Virginia slotted as “bubble teams,” according to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
UTEP Basketball Strength of Schedule
Season SOS Games vs. RPI Top 80
1993-94 85 12 - New Mexico State (2x), VCU, BYU (2x), Fresno State (3x),
Hawaii (2x), New Mexico (2x)
1994-95 91 10 - New Mexico State (3x), Arizona, Washington State,
BYU (2x), Utah (2x), Montana
1995-96 133 10 - Arizona, Eastern Michigan, Fresno State (2x),
Colorado State (2x), New Mexico (2x), Utah (2x)
1996-97 29 11 -Iowa State, Princeton, TCU (2x), Tulsa (2x),
New Mexico (2x), Utah (2x), Nevada
1997-98 93 10 - Wyoming (2x), Colorado State (2x), UNLV (2x),
New Mexico (2x), Utah (2x)
1998-99 100 12 - New Mexico State (2x), TCU (2x), Samford, Detroit,
Fresno State (2x), New Mexico (2x), Utah (2x)
1999-00 80 11 - New Mexico State (2x), Kent, Fresno State (2x),
SMU (2x), TCU (2x), Tulsa (2x)
2000-01 127 10 - Charlotte, Hawaii (2x), Tulsa (3x), Fresno State (3x),
2001-02 91 11 - Texas Tech, Charlotte, Mississippi, Louisiana Tech (2x),
Hawaii (2x), Tulsa (2x), Fresno State (2x)
2002-03 216 6 - Texas Tech, Fresno State (2x), Tulsa (3x)
2003-04 105 13 - Texas Tech, Rutgers, Boise State (3x), Rice (2x),
Nevada (3x), Hawaii (2x), Maryland
2004-05 114 10 - Arizona State, Southern Illinois, Texas Tech, Rice (3x),
Nevada (2x), Pacific, Utah
2005-06 130 8 - Georgetown, Syracuse, Houston (2x), UAB (2x), Memphis,
2006-07 144 5 - Syracuse, Texas Tech, New Mexico State (2x), Memphis
2007-08 121 7 - Texas A&M, UNLV, New Mexico, Texas Tech, Memphis,
2008-09 93 10 - UNLV, St. Mary’s, Wake Forest, Arizona State,
New Mexico, UAB (2x), Tulsa (2x), Memphis
2009-10 111 13 - New Mexico State (2x), Mississippi, Texas Tech, BYU,
Memphis, UAB (2x), Tulsa (3x), Marshall, Butler
2010-11 98 9 - Michigan, BYU, UAB, Southern Miss, UCF, Memphis (2x),
Marshall, New Mexico
2011-12 80 11 - New Mexico State (2x), Oregon, UNLV, Kansas State,
Colorado State, Marshall, Memphis (2x), Southern Miss, UCF
2011-12 RPI for 2012-13 Opponents* (Teams in Top 80)
Southern Miss 21
Colorado State 29
Oral Roberts 51
West Virginia 57
New Mexico State 59
* UTEP could play as many as 14 games versus Top-100 RPI teams in the 2012-13 regular season alone; as many as 17 including C-USA Tournament