Update: The game will be at 5:30 pm PT on ESPN.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs and the BYU Cougars are now playing each other on Thursday in Spokane, taking the place of Gonzaga’s previously scheduled game against the Santa Clara Broncos. The Broncos men’s basketball program remains on pause due to COVID.
It’s go time! Get ready Cougar Nation! We got a GAME!!— Mark Pope (@CoachMarkPope) January 5, 2021
We got a hint on the news last night because BYU’s coach has Twitter and Mark Few only owns a flip phone.
For Gonzaga fans, this is great news, because BYU is the second-best team in the conference. Having the opportunity to play the Cougars (potentially) three times in the regular season is great for keeping the competitive level up and the team on track for that No. 1 seed and national championship aspiration.
For BYU fans, this is also great news. The Cougars have looked like a NCAA Tournament team, and having three (potentially) chances to knock off the best team in college basketball would do wonders for their seeding.
For the WCC, this is halfway good news. The conference, to a certain extent, is in a bit of a bind with nearly three-quarters of its member schools existing in California, which is just getting demolished by COVID numbers at this time. On Saturday, only one WCC game (Gonzaga vs. USF) actually took place, while the other four were canceled.
The WCC looked into bubbling for conference play in Las Vegas, ultimately deciding against it. Other conferences took action to try and mitigate some issues, such as the Big Sky Conference. In the Big Sky, each team plays each other twice that week, eliminating extra travel.
That said, credit to the WCC for attempting to get something done that benefits two of its premier programs. There is nothing to be gained by having both BYU and Gonzaga not play on Thursday, especially when they are two of the most financially viable programs that are able to travel safely while avoiding California.
Vanquish the Foe, our friendly neighborhood BYU site, also confirmed the rumors.