No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 17 Virginia are familiar with revamping schedules on the fly after both had major nonconference matchups sidelined by COVID-19 concerns.
The Zags and Cavaliers have agreed to square off Dec. 26 at 1 p.m. at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, a matchup that likely replaces Baylor on Gonzaga’s schedule. The game will be televised on CBS and a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend.
Gonzaga has had five games shelved, including a Dec. 5 contest vs. No. 2 Baylor. The programs were looking at a January date that would have required both to shift conference games, but that became complicated when Baylor paused basketball activities Saturday and postponed two games, including a Big 12 contest against Texas.
“We’ll continue to try and I know Baylor is continuing to try, but once we get into league it gets more difficult,” Zags coach Mark Few said.
Virginia, which paused basketball activities on Dec. 9, postponed a Dec. 9 date with No. 4 Michigan State and canceled Saturday’s game versus No. 7 Villanova at Madison Square Garden.
GU (3-0), which hasn’t played since defeating West Virginia on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis, faces No. 3 Iowa on Saturday in South Dakota. The Cavaliers (3-1) return to practice Saturday and they’ve rescheduled their home opener vs. William & Mary for Tuesday. Virginia hasn’t played since a 71-64 overtime win against Kent State on Dec. 4.
Virginia, led by former Washington State head coach Tony Bennett, was No. 4 in the AP preseason poll. The Cavaliers opened with a blowout win over Towson before falling to San Francisco 61-60 in Connecticut.
“Obviously, Virginia is one of those programs that’s always going to be in the hunt for a No. 1 seed year in and year out, and this year will be no different,” Few said. “Tony is just a fabulous coach. It’s going be a huge challenge playing that style and their toughness and discipline, but it’ll be great for us moving forward to get us ready for the NCAA Tournament.”
Virginia captured the 2019 national championship, edging Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime. The Red Raiders advanced to the Final Four with a 75-69 win over Gonzaga.
Gonzaga is 2-1 in three meetings with Virginia in 2001, ’05 and ’07. The teams haven’t played since Virginia’s 108-87 victory on Jan. 3, 2007.
Gonzaga’s schedule is filling up for the remainder of December. After the Iowa game, GU faces Northwestern State on Monday, Virginia on Dec. 26, Northern Arizona on Dec. 28 and Dixie State on Dec. 29. The Zags’ West Coast Conference opener is Jan. 2 against San Francisco.
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