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Gonzaga to play in 2021 Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden

UPDATED: Wed., July 1, 2020

Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins passes around Villanova's Phil Booth during the first half of a Dec., 2017, game at Madison Square Garden.  (Associated Press)
Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins passes around Villanova's Phil Booth during the first half of a Dec., 2017, game at Madison Square Garden. (Associated Press)

Gonzaga, which recently wrapped up the upcoming season’s nonconference schedule, has already lined up a marquee tournament for the following year.

The Zags will join Louisville, Providence and Oklahoma State in the 2021 Empire Classic on Nov. 18-19 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein was the first to report the Empire Classic field.

Gonzaga’s opening matchup hasn’t been set, but the field should be strong for the event, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

Louisville, 24-7 in coach Chris Mack’s second season, finished No. 8 in the NET rankings and No. 14 in the final AP poll. They’re a fifth seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest bracket prediction.

Providence made five straight NCAA Tournaments from 2014-18. The Friars, 19-12 last season, were projected as a seven seed by Lunardi before the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re among Lunardi’s First Four out this season.

Oklahoma State, 18-14 last season, hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2017, but guard Cade Cunningham, ranked No. 1 in the 2020 class, recently reaffirmed his commitment to the Cowboys.

The Zags are scheduled to play Tennessee in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden. Gonzaga lost to eventual national champion Villanova 88-72 in the 2017 Jimmy V Classic .

Gonzaga’s 2021-22 schedule includes a home date versus Texas and a road contest against Washington. The Zags for years have been in a rotation of Thanksgiving holiday tournaments, including the Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis and Orlando Invitational. The Empire Classic will be the Zags’ multi-team event (MTE) for the 2021-22 season and conclude nearly a week before Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25).

The 2020 Empire Classic features Villanova, Michigan, Baylor and North Carolina State. The event is scheduled for Nov. 19-20 with first-day winners colliding for the title on Nov. 20 while first-day losers play in the consolation game.

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