We’re deep in the depths of the college basketball offseason, but a well-timed schedule release may be just what the doctor ordered to get us through these last few weeks before the season returns.
Obviously, we’ve known for some time which teams would be on the slate for the Zags this season and were simply awaiting the details. Now we know, and it looks like there will be a lot of home cooking for the Bulldogs as Mark Few breaks in three new starters and a talented group of freshmen to join Killian Tillie and Corey Kispert.
There’s a good pace to the month of November, with games coming every 3-4 days leading up to Feast Week. Gonzaga will play an exhibition in The Kennel against Lewis-Clark State on November 1 before the curtain raiser against Alabama State four days later on November 5. That’s followed up with two more home games against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and North Dakota before visiting College Station on November 15 and a Texas A&M Aggies squad heading in a new direction with head coach Buzz Williams.
As you may recall, Williams surprisingly landed at A&M after abruptly leaving Virginia Tech following a narrow Sweet 16 defeat to Duke last season and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. That trip will also be an opportunity for Admon Gilder to return to his stomping grounds and say hello to his former teammates.
UT Arlington (Nov. 19) and Cal State Bakersfield (Nov. 23) both return to Spokane for the second year in a row before the Zags head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 27-29). When Gonzaga last played in that event back in 2015, we were all wondering how Few would implement the jumbo front court of Wiltjer, Sabonis, and Karnowski. The current front court does not quite have that level of star power, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be intriguing to see how Tillie, Petrusev, Timme, Watson, and Ballo all come together.
In between trips to the water slides, the Zags will play Southern Miss, Oregon/Seton Hall (the PNW Bowl is going to happen, folks!), and one of Michigan/Iowa St./UNC/Alabama.
When Ballroom Basketball ends the calendar will flip to December for Texas Southern’s annual visit before a trio of games that will almost assuredly elicit some hot takes about Gonzaga’s credentials from the national peanut gallery. Consecutive road games against the Washington Huskies (not really a road game, let’s be real) on December 8 and the Arizona Wildcats on December 14 will be tricky before hosting Roy Williams and the Tar Heels in Spokane on December 18. Be honest, did you ever think you’d see North Carolina’s baby blues in The Kennel? That’s going to be a fun night.
The non-conference schedule closes with home games against Eastern Washington (Dec. 21) and Detroit-Mercy, meaning Gonzaga will only have to leave the state of Washington three times before the calendar flips to 2020. Don’t be fooled by the lack of arduous travel, though, because Few has once again put together a pretty challenging schedule that will test a team that needs to build chemistry quickly before conference play begins on January 2 against Portland.
Here’s the complete schedule (times not yet announced) with last season’s final KenPom ranking in parentheses:
11/1: Lewis-Clark State Warriors (Exhibition-NR) - Spokane, WA
11/5: Alabama State Hornets (#328) - Spokane, WA
11/9: Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions (#313) - Spokane, WA
11/12: North Dakota Fighting Hawks (#271) - Spokane, WA
11/15: Texas A&M Aggies (#91) - College Station, TX
11/19: University of Texas Arlington Mavericks (#150) - Spokane, WA
11/23: Cal State University Bakersfield Roadrunners (#226) - Spokane, WA
11/27: Southern Miss Golden Eagles (#120) - Paradise Island, Bahamas
12/4: Texas Southern Tigers (#195) - Spokane, WA
12/8: Washington Huskies (#48) - Seattle, WA
12/14: Arizona Wildcats (#94) - Tucson, AZ
12/18: North Carolina Tar Heels (#7) - Spokane, WA
12/21: Eastern Washington Eagles (#237) - Spokane, WA
12/30: Detroit Mercy Titans (#233) - Spokane, WA
1/2: Portland Pilots (#326) - Portland, OR
1/4: Pepperdine Waves (#151) - Spokane, WA
1//9: San Diego Toreros (#90) - San Diego, CA
1/11: Loyola Marymount Lions (#134) - Los Angeles, CA
1/16: Santa Clara Broncos (#186) - Spokane, WA
1/18: BYU Cougars (#86) - Spokane, WA
1/25: Pacific Tigers (#216) - Spokane, WA
1/30: Santa Clara Broncos (#186) - Santa Clara, CA
2/1: San Francisco Dons (#67) - San Francisco, CA
2/6: Loyola Marymount Lions (#134) - Spokane, WA
2/8: Saint Mary’s Gaels (#31) - Moraga, CA
2/15: Pepperdine Waves (#151) - Malibu, CA
2/20: San Francisco Dons (#67) - Spokane, WA
2/22: BYU Cougars (#86) - Provo, UT
2/27: San Diego Toreros (#90) - Spokane, WA
2/29: Saint Mary’s Gaels (#31) - Spokane, WA
3/5-3/10: WCC Tournament - Las Vegas, NV