The Colorado Springs Gazette is reporting that Gonzaga will play the Air Force Falcons this season. The teams will play in the McCarthy Center on December 22nd, two days after the Zags' ESPN date with Butler. The announcement means that Gonzaga will play an unprecedented 11 of their first 14 games in Spokane, and 12 of their first 14 in their home state.
It was rumored earlier in the off-season that the Zags would face Air Force as part of a Zag-hosted tournament. Last week we had all but ruled out Air Force's involvement in said tournament because Air Force had scheduling conflicts with the tournament's most recent string of proposed dates, November 21st-23rd. It appears that while the two sides will play, this game will not be part of any proposed four-team, round-robin 'Zag Classic.'
If the Air Force date was part of a Spokane tournament running Dec. 20th-22nd, the Zags' opponent on the 20th (Butler) would have to be involved all three days, and Butler has a date in Palo Alto against Stanford on Dec. 22nd.
If the Air Force date was part of a Spokane tournament running Dec. 22nd-24th it would mean the team is OK with scheduling a string of four high-level games in five days leading up to Christmas, which seems unlikely.
The aforementioned November 21st-23rd dates, which had been advertised as tournament dates by Jerry Krause on the now defunct BTI Scheduling Boards, are unreserved and have plenty of cushioning around them. But as we wrote last week, Gonzaga not participating in a qualifying multiple-team regular-season event this season means they can only have 29 games on their schedule. The Air Force announcement, coupled with the Oral Roberts game on December 15th that Zach reported last week, means Gonzaga currently has 27 confirmed games. Adding a round-robin Zag tournament would push the number of confirmed games to 30, one over the limit.
There's still a chance that Gonzaga could host a four-game, four-team tournament over two days in late November, but given the fact that Air Force (and, we guessed, even Butler) was a team originally rumored to be a part of the event, and that Dec. 20th-22nd were the original dates that Dr. Krause promoted on BTI for the tournament to be held, it appears more likely that the event fell through because it never attracted a fourth team.
Look for one or two remaining dates to be sprinkled in during that mid-November stretch. Then, we can finally wrap this sucker up and post it on the fridge in the break room.
Click below for the 3,586th version of Gonzaga's almost no-longer-in-progress 2011-12 schedule:
2011-2012 Gonzaga Men's Schedule (all times PST)
Nov 11th - vs. Eastern Washington University TBA (following women's game that evening against Hofstra)
Nov 14th - vs. Washington State University 9:00, ESPN
Nov 26th - vs. Western Michigan University (at Spokane Arena) 1:00 pm
Nov 30th - vs. University of Notre Dame 8:15 pm, ESPN2
Dec 3rd - @ University of Illinois 12:15 pm, ESPN2
Dec 10th - vs. Michigan State University 6:00 pm, ESPN2
Dec 15th - vs. Oral Roberts University, TBA
Dec 17th - vs. Arizona (at Key Arena in Seattle) TBA, CBS
Dec 20th - vs. Butler 6:00 pm, ESPN2
Dec 22nd - vs. Air Force, TBA
Dec 28th - vs. Portland, TBA
Dec 31st - @ Xavier 5:00 pm, ESPN2
Jan 5th - vs. Pepperdine TBA
Jan 7th - vs. Santa Clara TBA
Jan 12th - @ Saint Mary's 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Jan 14th - @ Loyola Marymount TBA
Jan 19th - vs. San Francisco 8:00 pm, ESPNU
Jan 21st - vs. San Diego TBA
Jan 26th - @ Portland 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Feb 2nd - @ Brigham Young University 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Feb 4th - @ Pepperdine TBA
Feb 9th - vs. Saint Mary's 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Feb 11th - vs. Loyola Marymount TBA
Feb 16th - @ Santa Clara 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Feb 18th - @ San Francisco TBA
Feb 23rd - vs. Brigham Young University 8:00 pm, ESPN2
Feb 25th - @ San Diego TBA