Austin Claunch

Nicholls basketball will find out pretty early where they stand in the 2019-20 basketball season.

The Colonels will play a challenging schedule this season, which features a season-opening date at Illinois and road games at Pittsburgh, LSU and a preseason tournament in Jamaica, among other games.

Second-year coach Austin Claunch said the schedule will challenge the Colonels and get them ready for the Southland schedule.

Nicholls just missed the SLC Tournament last year, but returns several key pieces off last year's team.

"We don't have any gimmies and I like it that way because at the end of the day, we've got to go win January through March and those types of games help shape us for league competition," Claunch said.

The Colonels open on the road with six of their first seven games away from Thibodaux.

They'll play Illinois, Pittsburgh, LSU and Rhode Island early in the year, as well as the Jamaican trip, which will feature games with North Carolina A&T and UMBC.

Claunch said the non-conference slate will be rough for the Colonels.

Nicholls opens at home on Nov. 13 against Paul Quinn College - a game sandwiched between the road affairs.

"Illinois is our opener, and that's a huge one right off the bat," Claunch said. "They have a great returning squad and they're set to have a big year. As usual, we have a really tough non-conference schedule with [Illinois], Pitt, West Virginia, LSU and Rhode Island, and I know a lot of people aren't as familiar with Rhode Island, but they've been the NCAA Tournament the past couple seasons and those guys will really challenge us and help prepare us for conference play. We also go to Jamaica and will face off with a really tough North Carolina A&T team and a UMBC squad with guys who were there whey they upset top-seeded Virginia in the first round."

But the Colonels' main focus is Southland play.

The team opens league play Dec. 18 against Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, a home game.

The team's most difficult conference stretch is from Jan. 5 - 11 when it plays three-straight road games.

But after that, the Colonels are at home for three games, then are on the road for two, but don't leave the state in either, at UNO and at McNeese.

If Nicholls has to win late in the season, they'll be at home, closing with UNO and McNeese - both at home.

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Casey Gisclair is the Sports Editor at Rushing Media. A native of Cut Off and graduate of Louisiana State University, Casey is a lifelong sports fan who joined the Houma Times team in Dec. 2009 upon college graduation.

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