When G.G. Smith stepped to the podium at Reitz Arena to accept the head coaching position for the Loyola men's basketball team in the spring of 2013, his opening speech was briefly interrupted by a phone call from his father Tubby, who leads the program at Texas Tech. Could they have been talking about a future matchup?
On Nov. 14, father and son will bring their teams together for the opening game of the 2014-15 season when the Greyhounds travel to Lubbock, Texas, to face Texas Tech. Loyola will welcome back a former head coach to Reitz Arena Nov. 29, when Jimmy Patsos brings his Siena Saints in for a non-conference game. In between the Texas Tech and Siena matchups, Loyola will travel to meet two schools with extensive NCAA tournament experience: Butler (Nov. 22) and Syracuse (Nov. 25).
Loyola isn't the only area program facing early-season matchups against high-profile opponents. On Nov. 14, Navy will host perennial NCAA championship contender Michigan State at Alumni Hall in the nightcap of the inaugural Veterans Classic at the Naval Academy. Two teams with recent NCAA tournament histories, Virginia Commonwealth and Tennessee, will tip off in the first game of the Veterans Classic. After meeting Michigan State, Navy will travel to Notre Dame (Nov. 16) and Providence (Nov. 20).
Coppin State's season-opening road trip includes games at Oregon, Illinois and Notre Dame, while Mount St. Mary's tips off Nov. 14 at perennial NCAA title contender Arizona. The UMBC men's team travels to Minnesota for a Nov. 22 contest. Maryland begins its 2014-15 Nov. 24-25, joining Arizona State, Iowa State and Alabama at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
The Towson women's basketball team will kick off the campaign with its first appearance in the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament in five years. Coach Niki Reid Geckeler's squad will travel to Penn State for a first-round contest Nov. 14, with the winner taking on the Albany-St. Francis Brooklyn victor on either Nov. 16 or 17. The semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 20, with the championship game Nov. 23.
The Mount St. Mary's women will have their hands full right away with games at Maryland (Nov. 14) and Atlantic 10 titlist Fordham (Nov. 18). Maryland's early schedule also includes a Nov. 22 visit to George Washington and a home game with Loyola Maryland (Nov. 24). The Terrapins, an NCAA Final Four participant in 2014, will meet Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison Nov. 28 at the San Juan Shootout.
Ivy League champion Penn visits Navy Nov. 22. The Retrievers also host Northeast Conference titlist Robert Morris (Nov. 23).
Morgan State opens on the road against three 2014 NCAA tournament teams. The Bears travel to Georgia (Nov. 14) and Georgia Tech (Nov. 16), before wrapping up the road swing with a Nov. 23 game at NCAA Sweet 16 participant Oklahoma State. The Bears' MEAC partner, Coppin State, plays its first game at North Carolina State and hosts NEC champion Robert Morris in a Nov. 25 game.