SPOKANE, Wash — College basketball scheduling around the nation is a mess right now.
No programs have full schedules out currently and we’re 40 days out from the start of basketball season.
Here's what we know so far about Gonzaga's current schedule.
GONZAGA'S NON-CONFERENCE SLATE
First off, I just want to give you a look at how much Gonzaga’s non-conference schedule has shifted since the end of June when it was unofficially finalized. It was honestly one of the best non-conference schedules in the country, including the likes of Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, and an Orlando Invitational field that included Michigan State.
OK, so now get rid of every team except for Tennessee and potentially Texas Tech.
A few days ago it was announced that the Orlando Invitational was off, and that Gonzaga would play in a four team multi-team event in Orlando instead. They’ll play Auburn on November 27, and the winner of Texas Tech and Houston on November 29. They’ll also play Tennessee in Orlando on December 2, Baylor in Indianapolis on December 5, and Iowa on December 19 in Sioux Falls.
They aren’t done either, as Gonzaga is still looking to add one more game in Orlando, presumably on the first day of the season, November 25. A lot of people are hoping the Zags schedule Michigan State that day. That’s a possibility, but I could also see Few scheduling more of a cupcake team on that date as well. It is, after all, the first game of the season. I would also assume that the Zags try to schedule more home games against small schools between December 5 and December 19.
Somehow, unlike most teams in the country, Gonzaga’s new non-conference schedule is actually more difficult than the previous version. We’re going to use CBS Sports’ Top 25 and 1 poll as a guide here.
Gonzaga is No. 1 in his rankings, Baylor is No. 2, Iowa comes in fifth, and Tennessee (12), Houston (14) and Texas Tech (19) all also make the cut.
The Bulldogs more guaranteed games against ranked teams in this schedule than the previous one, and they picked up two teams ranked higher than anyone else on their old schedule.
GONZAGA'S WCC SCHEDULE
Let’s move on to something we do know is set: the conference schedule.
The WCC posted their schedule last week. Of course, the dates Zag fans want to know is when they’ll play Saint Mary’s and BYU.
Gonzaga plays Saint Mary’s on the road on January 16 and Saint Mary’s at home on February 18. The Bulldogs take on BYU at home on February 6 and end their regular season at BYU on February 27. If you want to know more about the schedule, you can find that here.
In my estimation, the Zags most difficult stretch will start with that home game on February 6 against BYU, then they’ll play Santa Clara on the road on February 11, then travel to San Francisco on February 13, who many have as a top three team in the conference this year and the Zags always seem to struggle in San Francisco’s gym, and then GU will return to Spokane to play Saint Mary’s on February 18. It’s a totally doable stretch, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Zags get challenged in there at some point.
My biggest issue with Gonzaga’s WCC schedule is this: it could turn into a mess with COVID real fast.
Gonzaga begins their conference slate with a bye on New Year's Eve. It's nice for the team that they get that night off, but they essentially lose a date to re-schedule a game due to COVID right from the jump. Gonzaga’s next bye date is January 21. They have no more byes after that. That means that the Bulldogs have no Thursday or Saturday dates in the entire month of February available. Oh and also, Gonzaga doesn’t play BYU, the only other obvious NCAA Tournament caliber team in the conference this year, until after both of the Zags' bye dates. If either of the home or away games against BYU have to get rescheduled, it would not be an ideal situation.
I will just say this: prepare yourself for some three game weeks to happen in February. That’s the only way I see Gonzaga being able to get through a full conference slate this year because it’s almost guaranteed at some point that COVID will become a factor.
So there you have it, what we know so far about Gonzaga’s schedule. We’ll keep you updated as things begin to get more finalized.