Breaking down UCF's 2017-18 men's basketball schedule

Brandon Helwig, Publisher
UCF Sports

The most-anticipated season in UCF history is almost here.

On Friday, the full American Athletic Conference slate dropped as did the handful of remaining unannounced non-conference games.

Led by returning players B.J. Taylor, Tacko Fall and A.J. Davis plus an influx of talented transfers, many believe the Knights will compete for a conference championship and NCAA Tournament bid.

Click here for the full schedule.

Here's a closer look:

-The season opener is Friday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. against Mercer, one of UCF's former rivals dating back to the TAAC and Atlantic Sun days. That game is part of a doubleheader, following the women's game - also vs. Mercer - at 5:30 p.m. UCF hosts UConn the following day in football.

-Two additional home games are set for the next week: Wednesday, Nov. 15 vs. Gardner-Webb (another former A-Sun rival) and then Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. vs. William & Mary. That game may conflict with the football road game at Temple.

-UCF plays in the Advocare Invitational at Disney Wide World of Sports over Thanksgiving weekend with the first game set for Thursday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. vs. Nebraska. Friday's opponent would be West Virginia or Marist, pending the Thursday results. UCF hosts USF in football on Black Friday, so that's a potential conflict. No games are played on Saturday. The final day is Sunday. In 2007, UCF played in the same tournament when it was known as the Old Spice Classic.

-The marquee games of the non-conference slate are next up. On Thursday, Nov. 30, UCF hosts Missouri of the SEC with a 9 p.m. tip on ESPN. The Tigers of the SEC will be showcasing freshman Michael Porter, who many believe is the early favorite to be the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft. A few days later on Sunday, Dec. 3, UCF travels to Alabama for a game that will start at 2 p.m. with TV coverage from ESPNU. Both Missouri and Alabama are believed to be teams that can compete for a NCAA Tournament berth this season.

-The Knights then return home for two more games: Saturday, Dec. 9 vs. Southern and Tuesday, Dec. 12 vs. Southeastern Louisiana.

-On Tuesday, Dec. 19, UCF travels to DeLand to take on the Stetson Hatters. The two schools were longtime rivals though it's hard to say that's the case anymore, but that's a treasured trip for longtime UCF fans.

-Two days later the non-conference schedule wraps up with a home game on Thursday, Dec. 21 vs. South Carolina State.

-The American season begins Wednesday, Dec. 27 at SMU (9 p.m. tip on ESPN2) and the Knights' road trip will continue with a game on New Year's Eve (Sunday, Dec. 31) at East Carolina (4 p.m. on ESPNews). With all due respect to the UCF team and staffers that may have to watch the ball drop sitting in North Carolina, that's a win for fans as UCF was stuck with a New Year's Eve game last year vs. Tulsa in a game that was very lightly attended due to the holiday.

-The conference home opener is Wednesday, Jan. 3 vs. Memphis. Perhaps this is a sign of how much the Tigers have fallen as this game is only slated for ESPN3 coverage. UCF then hosts Temple on Sunday, Jan. 7 at 12 noon (CBS Sports Network). The spring semester begins the next day, so students will hopefully be back to attend that one.

-UCF travels to Storrs to take on UConn on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network), then has nearly a week off before resuming play at home vs. Cincinnati on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. (also CBS Sports Network).

-On Saturday, Jan. 20, UCF makes the I-4 trek to Tampa to take on USF (6 p.m., ESPNU). This is a rare weekend game at USF as most have been midweek, so perhaps UCF fans can help fill the SunDome like they did in 2012 for what was then the season opener.

-American newcomer and preseason top 10 team Wichita State hosts UCF on Thursday, Jan. 25 (9 p.m., ESPN2). Former Knights coach Donnie Jones is an assistant coach with the Shockers.

-UCF then returns to Orlando for a two-game homestand: Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. vs. UConn (CBS Sports Network) and Saturday, Feb. 3 at 12 noon vs. Houston (ESPNU).

-Then it's two more on the road: Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at Cincinnati (which will play home games at BB&T Arena in Northern Kentucky while their campus arena undergoes renovations) and Sunday, Feb. 11 at Memphis (4 p.m., both road games on CBS Sports Network).

-UCF fans can celebrate Valentine's Day with a home game against rival USF (Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. on ESPNews). SMU visits CFE Arena a few days later on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. (yes 11 a.m. on ESPNU).

-Then it's the two final road games: Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Tulsa (9 p.m., ESPNews) and Sunday, Feb. 25 at Temple (Time/TV TBA).

-UCF then finishes the regular season at home on Thursday, March 1 vs. Wichita State (7 p.m., ESPN) and Sunday, March 4 vs. Tulane (2 p.m., ESPNU). The game against Wichita State is believed to be the first UCF home game that will air on the ESPN flagship.

-The American Athletic Conference Championship will be held Thursday, March 8 through Sunday, March 11 at Orlando's Amway Center.

-UCF will play 21 of 30 regular season games in the State of Florida: 16 at CFE Arena, three at Disney, one at Stetson in DeLand and one at USF in Tampa. That's not including the conference tournament at Amway.

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