PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley will play 10 matches against team's that advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament and a total of five teams which won conference championships during the 2011 season with the announcement of BU's 2012 schedule Tuesday by second-year head coach Jenny Maurer.
The Braves will play four of their first six home games against squads which played in last year's NCAA Tournament, welcoming four regular-season conference champions to Renaissance Coliseum for the 2012 CEFCU Classic Sept. 14-15.
The tournament includes matchups with defending Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champ Northern Iowa (33-2 overall - NCAA Tournament second round) on Sept. 14. Bradley will also face Mid-American Conference West Division regular-season champion Northern Illinois (28-7 overall, NCAA Tournament first round) and Sun Belt Conference West Division regular-season champ Arkansas State (21-10 overall) on Saturday. Also participating in the event will be defending Big West Conference regular-season champion Long Beach State (23-7 overall), which has three NCAA National Championships to its credit and ranks ninth nationally with 26 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances.
The season begins Aug. 24 & 25 at the North Carolina Central Invitational in Durham, N.C., in Bradley's first-ever trip to the Tar Heel state. The squad's earliest season opener since 2007 will have the Braves squaring off against 2011 Big South Conference champ and NCAA Tournament participant Liberty (Aug. 24). Saturday's action in Durham, N.C., includes matches against Elon (19-14 overall in 2011) and Canisius.
Bradley travels to the state of Wisconsin for the first time since 2007, for the Panther Invitational in Milwaukee, Wis. (Aug. 31 & Sept. 1). Tournament-host Wisconsin-Milwaukee advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament after posting a perfect 16-0 record in the Horizon League and finished the year with a 25-4 record. After the team's first-ever meeting with East Carolina (Sept. 1), BU will wrap up play against NCAA Tournament participant Western Michigan (24-9 overall).
BU's home opener is slated for Tuesday, Sept. 4 against Saint Louis, before the Braves travel to Brookings, S.D., Sept. 8 for a one-day tournament featuring matches against South Dakota State and Wisconsin-Green Bay. Bradley will face Wisconsin-Green Bay for the first time since 2000, while South Dakota State is one of seven first-time opponents on the schedule.
After hosting the CEFCU Classic Sept. 14 & 15, the Braves hit the road for matches at Indiana State (Sept. 21) and at I-74 rival Illinois State (Sept. 22). Home contests against Wichita State (Sept. 28) and Missouri State (Sept. 29) conclude a stretch in which BU will play four of seven matches against teams that advanced to last year's NCAA Tournament.
Road matches at Drake (Oct. 5) and Creighton (Oct. 6), fall before Bradley's longest conference home stand since 2004. The Braves open a four-match home stand Oct. 12 against Southern Illinois and wrap up the first half of Valley play against Evansville (Oct. 13). The second half of league action begins Oct. 19 against I-74 rival Illinois State and the season-long four-match home stand concludes Oct. 20 vs. Indiana State.
Five of the final seven matches of the regular season will be on the road, starting Oct. 26 at Missouri State. The Oct. 27 game at Wichita State is followed by the final two home matches of the year. Creighton visits Renaissance Coliseum Nov. 2 and BU's Senior Night is slated for Nov. 3 against Drake. A three-match road swing wraps up the schedule with contests at Evansville (Nov. 9), Southern Illinois (Nov. 10) and Northern Iowa (Nov. 16).
The State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 22-24 in Springfield, Mo., with the top six teams in the final regular-season standings receiving a spot in the tournament field.