The desire to avoid opening the WCC season before Christmas has resulted in a conference basketball schedule without byes or traditional travel partners.
The WCC played pre-Christmas conference games last season for the first time and it was met with criticism from coaches and athletic directors. The compromise of eliminating pre-Christmas openers means condensing the 18-game WCC schedule into nine weeks instead of the customary 10.
As a result, Gonzaga will have five split weeks with one home game and one road game. The Zags open conference by entertaining Pepperdine on Thursday, Dec. 29. Typically, that would be followed by a home game against Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine’s travel partner. Instead, GU will visit Pacific in Stockton on Dec. 31.
There are four more split weeks, including three in a row: at Santa Clara on Jan. 19, home vs. Portland on Jan. 21; home vs. San Diego on Jan. 26, at Pepperdine on Jan. 28; at BYU on Feb. 2, home vs. Santa Clara on Feb. 4; and at San Diego on Feb. 23, home vs. BYU on Feb. 25 in the regular-season finale.
The Zags will have two weeks with a pair of home games and two weeks with a pair of road games.
Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s shared the conference title last season. The teams will square off Jan. 14 in Spokane and Feb. 11 in Moraga.
The WCC Tournament is scheduled for March 2-7 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
The conference television schedule will be announced soon.
With the way the calendar falls, this is the second year in a three-year stretch in which a traditional 10-week schedule would have required pre-Christmas WCC openers. The 2018-19 calendar allows for a 10-week conference schedule beginning after Christmas.
The WCC confirmed last January it would adjust the schedule to eliminate pre-Christmas openers, a move that was applauded at the time by GU athletic director Mike Roth.
“Not only were the athletic directors not overly thrilled, but the most vocal was the coaches,” Roth said in January. “It’s a trade-off everybody is willing to make.
“Teams have been going hard for months and you give them a couple more days off during Christmas. We took that away from them this year and we should be paying attention to that.”