If you are ever going to splurge as a Gonzaga fan to go see some nonconference matchups, this is probably a year you really want to consider. Not only will Gonzaga trot out what appears to be one of their most talented teams, but the staff has decided to take that roster and throw them right into the fire with a gauntlet of a nonconference slate. The schedule has been a widely discussed subject over the past week - most of which has circulated around the Washington State drama.
With that drama basically subsided, especially in the city of Spokane, we are moving forward. Yesterday we gathered some more info on the schedule and even though it will be many months until the final version is released, we basically know the high points. Let's review what we've learned in the past 24 hours...
The Zags will take on Arizona in early December
Traveling in December is typically a pain in the you know what but Arizona in December sounds alright to me. The average temperature in December is a nice 66 degrees meaning you can hit the golf course in the morning before catching some primetime basketball. Per Jason Scheer from Arizona's Scout.com page, the two outstanding west coast programs will face off on December 6th:
Gonzaga December 6, Michigan December 13, UNLV December 23— Jason Scheer (@JasonScheer) April 21, 2014
Even though Arizona lost Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon to the NBA Draft, they are still slotted by many to be a top 5 team next season as they are bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Look for this matchup to be one of the most anticipated when the schedules are formally released.
SMU will come to Spokane
With the Zags' sustained run of success, they are now able to schedule very aggressively. We saw this a bit with the Washington State scheduling and we continue to see it with the quality of teams that have agreed to play in Spokane - something which was unheard of not too long ago. Next season, SMU will reportedly descend on Spokane to take on the Zags. Per Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports:
Gonzaga's 14-15 non-conference schedule: home vs. SMU and Memphis, at Arizona, at UCLA, Preseason NIT with Georgia, Minnesota, St. John's.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 22, 2014
In various way-too-early 2014-15 rankings, SMU has been slotted as a top-15 team next season. The Mustangs were the runners up in the NIT this past season but the big driver for their ranking is the arrival of blue-chip prospect Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay is the consensus No. 1 ranked point guard prospect in the 2014 class and, barring something massively unforeseen, will be a top 5 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Zags will play Washington State in the Spokane Arena
Wait...you knew that? Thought I was breaking news. Oh well.
Don't expect much more
Looking back at the past 4-5 seasons, I feel safe in saying that the bones of the schedule are done. Yes, there will be filler games that we will cover as they come up but in terms of resume games, we are likely done. Road games against Arizona and UCLA will possibly the Zags' only road trips of the season excluding the NIT Season Tip-Off. In the past 4-5 years, the Bulldogs have only played about 2-3 true road games not including preseason tournaments so, with Arizona and UCLA already on the docket, we are probably finalized. SMU and Memphis will be on campus, I believe, which should be a whole lot of fun for the students.