HARROGATE, Tenn. - The six-time defending South Atlantic Conference champion Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball team has announced its schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign, which features 28 regular-season games. The Railsplitters are set to host 14 of those 28 games at Tex Turner Arena. Exhibition at Auburn For the second year in a row, the Railsplitters will open the season with an exhibition against a quality Division I opponent when they pay a visit to the Auburn Tigers on November 2. After stumbling to a 7-11 mark in Southeastern Conference play two seasons ago, Auburn had a resurgent 2017-18 campaign under head coach Bruce Pearl, posting a 26-8 overall record with a 13-5 mark against SEC foes. The Tigers earned at at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and defeated College of Charleston in the opening round. Lincoln Memorial aims for a repeat of last year's exhibition performance at Butler, when the Railsplitters nearly pulled off a stunning upset in an 86-79 loss at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Regular-Season Play Begins on November 9 The Railsplitters commence the regular season in Aiken, S.C. at the SAC vs. Peach Belt Conference Challenge, where they battle Clayton State in a rematch of last season's Southeast Regional semifinal game on November 9 before turning around to face host USC Aiken on November 10. Clayton State, who Lincoln Memorial demolished 87-61 to advance to their third straight region title game last season, went 24-7 overall and earned a share of the Peach Belt Conference championship in 2017-18, while USC Aiken posted a 16-12 overall mark. USC Aiken is just four years removed from winning the Southeast Region title and making an appearance in the national semifinals. After that South Carolina swing, the Railsplitters face another difficult nonconference test on November 17 when they make the cross-state trip to Memphis, Tenn. to square off against Christian Brothers. The Buccaneers went 21-9 last season and were ranked in both national polls for most the year. Before SAC play starts, the Railsplitters have two more nonconference matchups with the Tex Turner Arena opener against Paine on November 20 and a visit to future SAC member Virginia-Wise on November 24. Neither Paine or Virginia-Wise posted a winning record last season, as Paine went 6-22 and Virginia-Wise finished 14-16. Heated Rivalries Highlight Start of SAC Play Several highly-anticipated matchups kick off the South Atlantic Conference schedule for the Railsplitters in 2018-19. Lincoln Memorial opens league action at home against Carson-Newman on November 28 and Coker on December 1 before traveling to Charlotte, N.C. on December 8 for the first of two regular-season showdowns against Queens. LMU and Queens met four times last season, once to decide the SAC regular-season champion, once to decide the SAC tournament champion and one final time for the Southeast Region trophy. The Railsplitters won the first three, but the Royals got the last laugh by dethroning LMU in the region championship game to earn a bid to the Elite Eight. The Railsplitters and Royals have played at least four times in each of the last two seasons, while both teams were ranked in the top 10 of the national poll in all four matchups during the 2017-18 campaign, including a rare No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in the regular-season finale. Carson-Newman, meanwhile, went 23-8 last season and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Railsplitters and Eagles will collide for the 208th and 209th time during the 2018-19 regular-season slate. Closing Out 2018, Opening 2019 The Railsplitters head to Anderson on December 12 and return to Tex Turner on December 15 to face Wingate before finishing up the 2018 portion of the schedule with a nonconference game at home against Kentucky Wesleyan on December 19. Kentucky Wesleyan had a forgettable 2017-18 season, finishing 15-16 overall, but the Panthers have won an NCAA Division II record eight national titles. Plus, they are just one season removed from posting a dazzling 28-3 mark in 2016-17. After breaking for the holidays, the Railsplitters resume play with a New Year's Day clash against North Greenville and a SAC contest against Newberry, both of which will be hosted in Harrogate. Newberry was solid last season, finishing tied for fifth in the SAC with a 15-14 overall record. Finish with Road-Heavy Stretch The Railsplitters will play eight of their last 15 games on the road, beginning with back-to-back games at Catawba on January 12 and Mars Hill on January 16. After a short two-game homestand against Lenoir-Rhyne on January 19 and Tusculum on January 23, Lincoln Memorial begins the second half of SAC play with trips to Coker and Carson-Newman to close out the month of January. February 2 looms large on the calendar, as the Railsplitters return home for the second matchup against Queens to start a stretch of three of four at Tex Turner. That run ends with the final nonconference game of the season against Hiwassee on February 13. The Railsplitters then wrap up the regular season with a road trip to Newberry on February 16, home games against Mars Hill on February 20 and Catawba on February 23, and back-to-back road trips to Tusculum on February 27 and Lenoir-Rhyne on March 2. Postseason Play Begins March 6 The top eight teams in the final conference standings earn bids to the South Atlantic Conference Championship, which opens with quarterfinal round action on March 6. The top four seeds will host their respective quarterfinal round game, while the semifinals and title games are set to be hosted at Furman University's Timmons Arena. NCAA tournament play starts the week after the SAC Championship. The winners of the SAC, Peach Belt Conference and Conference Carolinas tournaments will earn automatic bids while five additional at-large entries will comprise the Southeast Regional field. The winner of that eight-team tournament will then advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. L Club Memberships and Season Ticket Options Single-game tickets will be available for purchase for $5 at the ticket office an hour prior to each game, but there are several other ticket options available for Railsplitter basketball fans. L Club memberships are now available for purchase for the 2018-19 season. For just $100, L Club membership includes admission to all home basketball games as well as every home regular-season volleyball, lacrosse, baseball and softball games. In addition to that, L Club memberships include premier parking at Tex Turner Arena, access to the hospitality room at every basketball game night and much more. Season tickets are also available for the 2018-19 basketball seasons. Pricing is $75 for a single seat in the lower level of Tex Turner Arena, $250 for a package of four seats and $150 for courtside seating.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught