Western Carolina’s men’s basketball team will open its season with three games at Kimmel Arena on the UNC-Asheville campus.

The Catamounts will face UNC-Wilmington at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25.

They will take part in the Mako Medical Asheville Classic, hosted by UNC-A, Nov. 27 and 28. The first game will be at 1 p.m. against Troy, with the second at 3:30 p.m. against UNC-A.

The season, which has been impacted greatly by COVID-19, will start with nine non-conference games followed by 18 Southern Conference contests.

The first home game will be Nov. 30 against Piedmont.

League play will start Dec. 30 at East Tennessee.

Senior guard Mason Faulkner has been named to the preseason all-conference team. He earned all-league honors last year when he averaged 17.7 points and 6.1 assists.

The coaches picked UNC-Greensboro as the pre-season favorite with Furman second. The media reversed that order. Otherwise the polls were the same with ETSU third, followed by Mercer, Wofford, WCU, UT-Chattanooga, Samford, Virginia Military and Citadel.

Only family members of players will be allowed to attend games in the Ramsey Center under Gov. Roy Cooper’s current Phase III COVID reopening restrictions.

WCU returns nine lettermen and three starters from a team that went 19-12 and tied for fifth in the conference before reaching the semifinals of the league tournament. In addition to Faulkner, other returning starters are senior Matt Halvorsen and junior Kameron Gibson, who missed the last part of the season with a knee injury.

In other WCU basketball news, Darrius Washington, a 6-8 forward from Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Kentucky, has signed with the Cats for the 2021-22 season.

The schedule is as follows:

Nov. 25 – UNC-Wilmington at UNC-Asheville; 27 – Troy at UNC-A; 28 – at UNC-A; 30 – Piedmont.

Dec. 3 – Bowling Green; 6 – Tennessee Tech; 12 – at N.C. A&T; 15 – at Virginia Commonwealth; 18 – at College of Charleston; 30 – at East Tennessee.

Jan. 2 – Citadel; 6 – Furman; 9 – at Samford; 13 – UNC-Greensboro; 16 – at Mercer; 20 – ETSU; 23 – at Wofford; 27 – at VMI; 30 – Samford.

Feb. 3 – UT-C; 6 –at Citadel; 10 – VMI; 13 – at Furman; 17 – at UT-C; 20 – Wofford; 24 – at UNC-G; 27 – Mercer.

March 5-8 – Southern Conference Tournament at Harrah’s Cherokee Center-Asheville.