Paul Grua, Weber State Athletics
Weber State head coach Randy Rahe returns for his seventh season as head coach of the Wildcats.

The Weber State men’s basketball team has released the 2012-13 schedule. This year’s schedule is highlighted by 15 regular season home games, five games against Utah schools and 20 Big Sky Conference games.

“Our goal every year is to put together a challenging schedule and we feel we’ve done that again this year,” said Weber State head coach Randy Rahe. “We are always looking to play a tough schedule to challenge ourselves and this year is no exception. We always look forward to the in-state games and the other preseason games to prepare us for the Big Sky season and this year we’re excited [about] an expanded conference schedule.”

For the second-straight season, the Wildcats will face 15 regular season home games. WSU will play three games against teams from Utah, playing at Utah State and home against Utah Valley and BYU. The Wildcats will also play two games against Southern Utah, a new member of the Big Sky Conference. The ‘Cats and Thunderbirds will play Jan. 10 in Cedar City and Feb. 9 in Ogden.

After a home exhibition game on Nov. 5, the Wildcats open the season with a home game on Nov. 9 against Arizona Christian. The ‘Cats will then hit the road for three games at San Jose State (Nov. 15), Utah State (Nov. 24) and the University of Dayton (Nov. 28). The game against the Flyers will be the first one ever for the Wildcats and just the sixth game ever against a team from the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The Wildcats will then return home for three straight games hosting Utah Valley (Dec. 5), UC Irvine (Dec. 8) and BYU (Dec. 15). They will also have a home game against the University of the Southwest on Dec. 29.

With the addition of North Dakota and Southern Utah in the Big Sky, the conference will have a 20 game regular season. The Wildcats will open conference play Dec. 20 at Eastern Washington and Dec. 22 at Portland State. WSU will face four of the first six and eight of the first 12 conference games on the road, including a trip to defending conference champion Montana on Jan. 26. WSU will have two Monday conference games, both against rival Idaho State when they play the Bengals Jan. 14 in Pocatello and Feb. 11 in Ogden. The ‘Cats will conclude the conference season with six of the final eight Big Sky games at home, concluding March 9 against Eastern Washington.

The Big Sky will also have a new look to the conference tournament beginning in 2013. The tournament will expand to a seven-team tournament, one more than the previous format and will be played March 14-16 at the site of the regular season champion. The No. 1 seed will earn a bye to the semifinals on Friday. During the past decade, the men’s tournament had a Saturday, Tuesday-Wednesday format with the regular-season champion hosting the semifinals and championship.

The Wildcats will also join all other Big Sky schools in participating in the Sears Bracketbusters and will play a road game on Feb. 23. The opponent of that game will be announced in late January.

Weber State is coming off a 25-7 overall record and a 14-2 Big Sky Conference record in 2011-12. For the fourth straight season, the Wildcats advanced to postseason play, advancing to the second round of the Postseason Tournament. The ‘Cats also posted their best home record in school history last season, finishing the year a perfect 16-0 at the Dee Events Center. Coach Rahe returns for his seventh season as head coach of the Wildcats, posting a career record of 120-68 overall and 74-22 in Big Sky Conference games.

The ‘Cats lost three players off last year’s squad, including seniors Kyle Bullinger and Darin Mahoney and All-American Damian Lillard, who was selected sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Weber State returns seven players off of last year’s squad, including All-Conference performers Scott Bamforth and Kyle Tresnak. The Wildcats will welcome five new players to the squad, as well as Davion Berry who sat out last season as a transfer.

Weber State once again led the Big Sky in attendance with 6,493 fans per game, the highest attendance in nine years. The Wildcats had the 13th best attendance of schools in the western United States.

Paul Grua is the Director of Athletic Communications at Weber State University.