ALBANY — The UAlbany men’s basketball program will play this weekend.
And don’t bother looking at the record of the Great Danes’ opponent.
Saint Joseph’s, which will host UAlbany at 6 p.m. Saturday in a non-conference game, is 0-8 on the season — but the Atlantic 10 Conference team’s schedule is ranked as the second-toughest in the country, according to kenpom.com, and has included games against three top-10 squads in this week’s media poll.
“You have to give Billy Lange, their head coach, credit for piecing together that non-conference schedule,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said Thursday, hours after both schools announced this weekend’s game will take place. “The best way to describe it is ‘brutal.’”
Previously, UAlbany had an open weekend in its schedule because America East Conference opponent Stony Brook is unable to play because it is on a pandemic-related pause. Saint Joseph’s original opponent for this weekend — Saint Louis — is also unable to play, and Brown said the Atlantic 10 and America East Conference league offices worked to connect UAlbany and Saint Joseph’s to play a non-conference game that will be televised nationally on NBCSN.
By Tuesday evening, Brown said he had a “pretty good idea” the Great Danes would be headed to Philadelphia this weekend to play their season’s second non-conference game. UAlbany is 1-4 on the season, with its only non-conference game to this point being a 70-65 loss to Niagara of the MAAC.
While UAlbany is coming off a series split against Vermont last weekend, Saint Joseph’s lost 83-57 Wednesday to St. Bonaventure. That defeat dropped Saint Joseph’s record to 0-3 in league play.
The Hawks’ non-conference schedule includes games against Villanova, Kansas and Tennessee — ranked Nos. 3, 6 and 9 this week, respectively — as well as Auburn and Drexel.
“If you look at their schedule,” Brown said, “it’s absolutely brutal.”
Brown said UAlbany will not have redshirt juniors Cameron Healy (oblique) and Adam Lulka (nose/head) available for Saturday’s game. Healy has missed UAlbany’s last three games, while Lulka missed the team’s previous two games.
UAlbany and Saint Joseph’s have never previously played each other in men’s basketball.