We already had a couple fanposts on the recently revealed Maui field and the recently-set Illinois game but it's probably necessary to elaborate on them a little bit. While this two games are not the biggest game on the schedule in 2009-10, both should provide some intrigue and the draw of being big conference teams. Colorado will be Gonzaga's first match up in the Maui Invitational pre-season tournament. As you can tell by my username, I'm also a CU fan but I think most of the world knows the reputation that CU basketball has outside of Chauncey Billups. As for the second schedule update, the Illinois Fighting Illini released their schedule and on it was the Gonzaga Bulldogs. While the date has been rumored for quite some time, it has finally been set for January 2nd at the United Center in Chicago. A tournament team last year, Illinois returns some of their most outstanding players including Mike Davis and it should be a great test for this young team.
Remember last year when Gonzaga was in the preseason tournament with one of the best fields in years? That's not really the case this year as the Maui Invitational is a tournament full of teams trying to prove themselves. Cincinnati is trying to prove that prized 2009 commit Lance Stephenson can prove all his doubters wrong. Colorado is trying to show some improvement under Jeff Bzdelik. Arizona and Gonzaga are trying to rebound with a slew of new players after losing their core. Wisconsin, Maryland, and Vanderbilt all have some talent but this tournament is wide open. The Zags face off against the Buff at Noon PST on Monday, November 23rd. Colorado has some talent; led by Cory Higgins but aside from that, their isn't a whole lot that we should worry about.
The Illinois game will be the fun one I think. I really wish this game would have been a year ealier so Jeremy Pargo could have played in his home town of Chicago but it should be great nonetheless. Illinois was supposed to be Gonzaga's second round NCAA Tournament match up last year but were upset by Western Kentucky. Illinois returns a bulk of their core from a seson ago led by guard Demetri McCamey and big man Mike Davis. I think they are going to be a very underrated team this year as they were already left out of Dick Vitale's top 40 teams...but it's Dicky V so you can't expect too much. They are probably two years away or so as head coach Bruce Weber is really starting to rake in the top recruits. His 2009 class is impressive and guard loaded and his 2010 class is already three-deep with one five star small forward, a four-star center, and a four-star guard. If Davis and McCamey hang around until they are seniors, this team will be remarkably dangerous in 2010-11.
This schedule is turning out to be absolutely fantastic.
I can't wait.