The Gonzaga Bulldogs very well might enter the 2021-22 season ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation, and they’ll have plenty of opportunities to prove it during the non-conference schedule.
There are highlights all over the place. A game at home against a potentially top-five ranked Texas team. A contest against the Duke Blue Devils in Las Vegas. A rematch against UCLA as well. Let’s not forget about Alabama while we are at it, most likely another top 15 team.
All in all, the Zags will face off against six schools from the Power 5 conferences, and surprisingly, for the first time in possibly school history, won’t have a single true road game. Nine of the 14 non-conference games are at home, with three in Las Vegas, one in Seattle, and one in Phoenix.
Some of the gimme games feature some familiar opponents, including Dixie State and Northern Arizona, who the Zags played last season. After a one-year COVID delay, the Zags will host Washington at home. A new challenger into the mix, Merrimack, recently began its transition to Division I athletics in 2019-20.
Expectations are incredibly high for the Zags rolling into the season. Outside of potentially starting out as the preseason No. 1 team for the second year in a row, Joe Lunardi has already pegged the Zags as the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. For that to come true, Gonzaga will have to take care of business during the non-conference, and they will most definitely have their challenges along the way.
Interestingly enough, the Zags are also opening the season with two exhibitions—something this always wrong blog author cannot remember happening before. Why this is the case remains to be seen.
Here is the non-conference slate:
- Oct. 31 vs. Eastern Oregon (exhibition)
- Nov. 5 vs. Lewis-Clark State (exhibition)
- Nov. 9 vs. Dixie State
- Nov. 13 vs. Texas
- Nov. 15 vs. Alcorn State
- Nov. 19 vs. Bellarmine
- Nov. 22 vs. Central Michigan (Las Vegas)
- Nov. 23 vs. UCLA (Las Vegas)
- Nov. 26 vs. Duke (Las Vegas)
- Nov. 29 vs. Tarleton State
- Dec. 4 vs. Alabama (Seattle)
- Dec. 9 vs. Merrimack
- Dec. 12 vs. Washington
- Dec. 18 vs. Texas Tech (Phoenix)
- Dec. 20 vs. Northern Arizona
- Dec. 28 vs. North Alabama