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Gonzaga’s 15 nonconference games include nine home dates, North Carolina on Dec. 18

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 26, 2019, 8:31 p.m.

Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins (13) reacts to a turnover in GU’s 103-90 road loss to North Carolina last December. The Tar Heels visit McCarthey Athletic Center on Dec. 18 for one of the biggest nonconference home games in GU’s history. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins (13) reacts to a turnover in GU’s 103-90 road loss to North Carolina last December. The Tar Heels visit McCarthey Athletic Center on Dec. 18 for one of the biggest nonconference home games in GU’s history. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga released its full nonconference schedule Monday but its marquee matchups have been known for some time.

Gonzaga’s home schedule is highlighted by North Carolina’s visit on Dec. 18. It’s arguably the biggest nonconference home game in program history. The Tar Heels beat Gonzaga in the 2017 national championship and handled the Zags 103-90 last December in Chapel Hill. GU is No. 7 and UNC No. 8 in ESPN’s latest top 25.

The Zags filled out their home schedule with November dates against Alabama State, Arkansas Pine-Bluff, North Dakota and CSU Bakersfield and a late December matchup against Detroit Mercy. Gonzaga will play nine of its 15 nonconference games at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Gonzaga entertains Alabama State on Nov. 5 – the Zags’ earliest season opener since at least the 1958-59 season – followed by another Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) foe in Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 9. The Golden Lions finished third in the SWAC last season and 13-19 overall. Alabama State was 12-19 a year ago.

North Dakota makes its second visit to the McCarthey Athletic Center in three years. The Fighting Hawks nearly upset GU before falling 89-83 in overtime two years ago. Geno Crandall scored 28 points for UND before opting to transfer to Gonzaga for his senior season.

The Fighting Hawks are in their second season in the Summit League after a six-year stint in the Big Sky.

CSU Bakersfield plays in Spokane for the second consecutive year. The Zags cruised past the Roadrunners 89-54 last December. The Roadrunners tied for fifth in the WAC last season, finishing 18-16 after reaching the CIT quarterfinals.

Detroit Mercy, a member of the Horizon League, visits GU on Dec. 30 to close out the nonconference schedule. The Titans are coached by Mike Davis, who brought Texas Southern to the Kennel twice in recent years before accepting the Detroit Mercy job in June, 2018. The coach’s son, Antoine, averaged 26.1 points last season, third nationally.

The Titans, 11-20 in Mike Davis’ first season, are ineligible for the 2020 postseason after failing to meet minimum Academic Progress Report (APR) standards.

The Zags have three tough road assignments, beginning with Texas A&M on Nov. 15. The Aggies, under new coach Buzz Peterson, were blown out 94-71 by the Zags last November in Spokane.

GU visits rival Washington on Dec. 8 and Arizona on Dec. 14. The Huskies are ranked No. 23 with the Wildcats No. 18, according to ESPN.

The Zags could face a pair of ranked opponents at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Gonzaga opens against Southern Mississippi on Nov. 27 with the winner/loser taking on Seton Hall or Oregon. Seton Hall is No. 14 and Oregon No. 17 in ESPN’s rankings. North Carolina, Alabama, Michigan, and Iowa State complete the Atlantis field.

The rest of Gonzaga’s home slate includes Texas-Arlington (Nov. 19), Texas Southern (Dec. 4) and Eastern Washington (Dec. 21). UT-Arlington lost to GU 89-55 last season. Texas Southern, which won 24 games last season, is on GU’s home schedule for a third consecutive year.

The Zags hold a 53-7 edge in the EWU series. The teams haven’t met since GU’s 77-69 win in 2012.

Gonzaga entertains NAIA Lewis-Clark State College on Nov. 1 in an exhibition game.

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