PEORIA, Ill. -- First-year Bradley women's basketball head coach Mike Brooks and his team will receive an early test in 2012-13, with the Braves scheduled to open the season with four of the first five games against squads which advanced to last year's WNIT. Brooks will make his Bradley head coaching debut at home Friday, Nov. 9 against Central Michigan according to Monday's announcement of the 2012-13 non-conference schedule.
Highlighting a schedule which features just four games outside the state of Illinois, will be the team's first trip to the state of Florida since 2005-06 along with a Thanksgiving Weekend tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz.
"We are excited about the challenges our non-conference schedule provides our team," said Brooks. "I believe it will prepare us for grind of the Missouri Valley Conference and the varying styles we will see once league play begins,"
The season opener against Central Michigan (Nov. 9) is the first of back-to-back games against 20-win teams from last year. The Braves topped the Chippewas, who finished the 2011-12 season with a 20-16 record and advanced to the WNIT, 86-79 in Mount Pleasant, Mich., last December. CMU will be making the trip to Peoria for the first time since Nov. 1986.
The first road game of the season kicks off a season-long five-game road swing, when BU visits WNIT participant Eastern Illinois on Monday, Nov. 12. The Panthers finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference last year and closed the season with a 22-9 record.
The Braves will face a Big Ten team for the fifth consecutive year, traveling to Champaign, Ill., for a Nov. 15 contest at Illinois. The matchup against the Illini will be the fourth time in the last five years the two teams will have squared off.
Bradley's first trip to Florida since playing in a tournament at Miami in 2005-06 falls on Nov. 20 with the Bradley men's and women's basketball squads playing a doubleheader at South Florida in both squads final game before Thanksgiving. BU will face a current Big East Conference member in the regular season for the first time since Dec. 1997. The Bulls ended a 19-16 season in 2011-12 in the third round of the WNIT.
The Braves return to Flagstaff, Ariz., for the first time since claiming the 2008-09 NAU Thanksgiving Classic title, with BU scheduled to play WNIT participant Tulane (23-11 overall in 2011-12) in the first round of the 2012-13 NAU Thanksgiving Classic (Nov. 23 & 24). Western Michigan and tournament-host Northern Arizona will play in the other opening round game with the tournament championship and third-place games scheduled for Nov. 24.
In-state foe Northern Illinois will visit Renaissance Coliseum Wednesday, Nov. 28 for the first of back-to-back home games for the Braves. Bradley and NIU will be playing for the seventh consecutive year. The home stand also features a Dec. 1 contest against Big South Conference member Winthrop.
BU's final game before finals will be Dec. 4 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The squads have won on each other's home floor each of the last two years with the contests decided by a total of six points.
The final home game on the non-conference schedule is Dec. 18 against Illinois-Chicago in the fourth of five non-conference tilts against in-state foes. The Flames were 18-13 overall last year.
For the second consecutive year Bradley will wrap up the non-conference schedule against Western Illinois, traveling to Macomb, Ill., for a Dec. 21 tilt.
Bradley's lone exhibition game is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1 against Lindenwood at Renaissance Coliseum and the annual Red-White Scrimmage is slated for Friday, Oct. 12.