The Gonzaga Bulldogs will open the 2018-19 year against Central Washington University in an exhibition game on Nov. 1, and will close the non-conference schedule against Cal-State Bakersfield on Dec. 31.
In between, the Zags will play one of the more grueling stretches of basketball in school history, going through a two-week spurt of playing, possibly, four-straight ranked teams.
Scheduling is always a tricky dance in college basketball, and Mark Few has rarely shied away from running the Zags through the gauntlet. Since the program’s success over the past two decades, that has transformed from the play us anywhere/anytime, to securing high profile opponents in home/home games, e.g. the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Last year, the Zags played seven games against teams that ended up in Ken Pomeroy’s top 100. This year, the team should see at least eight opportunities against such teams, with only three of the games coming in Spokane (three in the Maui Invitational, hopefully, and two away games).
But back to that December gauntlet (which in no way should overshadow the test of the Maui Invitational). We will find out the mettle of this squad during that time. Starting on Dec. 1, the Zags will travel to Creighton, play at home against the zone defense of Washington, play on a neutral court against a most likely top-5 team in Tennessee, and finish on the road at the famed Dean E. Smith Center of North Carolina.
Because the Zags play in the smaller confines of the West Coast Conference, it is imperative Gonzaga pick up the wins during the non-conference slate—especially considering the level of hype surrounding the team this year. A No. 1 seed might get casually handed to a team like Arizona, Michigan State, or the 2005 Washington Huskies, but Gonzaga, as of yet, hasn’t received such treatment, and justifiably so. Gonzaga’s greatest wins are always coming in November or December, not in late February or early March.
Seeding aside, this season’s non-conference slate features some incredibly fun games, and it is going to be a blast watching this team attempt to fulfill the grand expectations many of us (me included) are setting from the get go.
Here is the full non-conference schedule:
- Nov. 1 vs. Central Washington (Exhibition Game)
- Nov. 6 vs. Idaho State
- Nov. 10 vs. Texas Southern
- Nov. 15 vs. Texas A&M
- Nov. 19 vs. Illinois (Maui Invitational)
- Nov. 20 vs. Arizona/Iowa State (Maui)
- Nov. 21 vs. Auburn/Xavier/Duke/San Diego St. (Maui)
- Nov. 26 vs. North Dakota State
- Dec. 1 at Creighton
- Dec. 5 vs. Washington
- Dec. 9 vs. Tennessee (in Phoenix)
- Dec. 15 at North Carolina
- Dec. 18 vs. UT Arlington
- Dec. 21 vs. Denver
- Dec. 28 vs. North Alabama
- Dec. 31 vs. Cal State Bakersfield