PEORIA, Ill. - The Bradley men's basketball team will take one final test before heading to Las Vegas for the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic when the Braves host nearby Eureka College Dec. 18.
The game against the NCAA Division III Red Devils will be played immediately following Bradley's fall semester final exams and will give the Braves an opportunity to return to the court in a competitive environment for the first time in nine days before facing defending Big West Conference champion UC Irvine Dec. 21 in Las Vegas. After visiting 2014 NCAA Tournament participants Memphis Dec. 6 and and Kansas State Dec. 9 in back-to-back road games, the Braves will focus on final exams Dec. 11-17 before hosting Eureka.
Bradley, which was the only Missouri Valley Conference school that did not play a non-NCAA Division I team in 2013-14, will face a lower division squad in the regular season for the first time since hosting Texas A&M-Kingsville in the 2010-11 season-opener as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament and Eureka will be Bradley's seventh non-NCAA Division I opponent in the regular season since 2000. Although the result against the Red Devils will count toward Bradley's final 2014-15 won-loss record, the result will not be factored into Bradley's Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) figure, which is used in MVC tie-breaking procedures and as a tool for postseason tournament selections. Among the top 11 conferences in the 2013-14 final league RPI rankings, 54 regular-season games were played last season against non-NCAA Division I opponents, including 11 each by MVC and West Coast Conference programs and 15 by Mountain West Conference teams.
Separated by just 22 miles, Bradley and Eureka once were local rivals in the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from 1910-37 (Eureka remained in the league through 1942) and the series dates to 1905. Bradley owns a 39-20 all-time lead in the series, though the teams have not met since Bradley's 70-26 win at the Peoria Armory Feb. 23, 1937 in its final IIAC home game. Eureka had won six consecutive games in the series before Bradley swept the 1936-37 home-and-home series by a combined 61 points (40-23 and 70-26).
The Dec. 18 game versus Eureka is the seventh of 13 non-conference games Bradley has announced for the 2014-15 season and the remaining six games will be released as dates and contracts are finalized. In addition, the 18-game Missouri Valley Conference schedule will be announced late in the summer by the league office to complete Bradley's overall 31-game regular-season schedule.