Fairfield excited to host Tip-Off games

The Fairfield Stags would love to meet Louisville in ‘The Tournament’ this March, but a Stags-Cardinals meeting is already lined up for next season.

Fairfield will host the University of Hartford and Holy Cross at the Webster Bank Arena before playing the Cardinals at the Mohegan Sun in the 2013 Tip-Off Tournament, which is sponsored by the MAAC. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame released the finalized eight-team field along with the schedule on Wednesday.

The Stags are in a loaded Naismith Bracket that also includes Louisville, North Carolina and Richmond. The Springfield Bracket consists of Hartford, Holy Cross, Hofstra and Belmont.

“We are the only mid-major host,” Fairfield athletics director Gene Doris said. “Hosting two home games is definitely a message we are sending about our program.”

Fairfield will play Hartford on Nov. 13 and Holy Cross on Nov. 20 at the WBA. The Stags will then meet Rick Pitino and Louisville on Nov. 23, and either Richmond or North Carolina on Nov. 24, with both games being played at the Mohegan Sun.

“For our fans, getting to play Louisville in Connecticut is terrific,” Doris said.
Much of the field was already established last spring for the Tip-Off, but when Boston University announced it was moving to the Patriot League they had to find a replacement since Holy Cross was already in the field. Sacred Heart’s name did come up in discussions, but Hartford ended up filling the spot.

The Stags played in the Preseason NIT this season, and were supposed to host a game in the second round, but changes in the NIT commitment ended up sending them on the road for all four games.

Doris said the 2013-14 schedule is not complete, but the Stags will play at Providence, which completes the three-game deal that came about after Ed Cooley left to coach the Friars. Doris said he was not sure if the Stags will play at the University of Albany, which was their BracketBuster opponent last week, next season or in 2014-15.

The Stags and the rest of the MAAC will be playing two extra conference games next season with the additions of Quinnipiac and Monmouth after losing Loyola, Md. to the Patriot League. Instead of playing an unbalanced schedule with 11 teams, Doris said the MAAC is going with a 20-game regular season.

Fairfield plays at 9 p.m. Friday at Manhattan as it resumes MAAC play. The Stags closeout the regular season Sunday at Marist. The Stags (17-12, 9-7 MAAC) enters the weekend tied with Iona for fifth in the conference standings.

William Paxton