It’s not a college baseball schedule, but it resembles one.
The Big Sky Conference released its 2020-2021 men’s and women’s basketball schedules Thursday, which features teams playing two consecutive games against every school to offset the cost of travel following coronavirus-induced financial losses.
Eastern Washington begins the defense of its Big Sky men’s regular-season crown on Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 at Northern Arizona. The EWU women open with NAU at home.
Games will typically be played on Thursdays and Saturdays, culminating in a conference tournament that will be in Boise for the third straight year.
“It will be interesting, but at least we’re still getting 20 conference games,” EWU coach Shantay Legans said. “We were going to get 16, so this is good, and makes up for games we lost in nonconference.”
“It’s different, but it’s been a different kind of year.”
EWU will face rivals Idaho and Montana once at each of their respective venues, like previous years.
The Eagles face Idaho on Feb. 4 in Cheney and Feb. 6 in Moscow before taking on Montana Feb. 18 in Cheney and Feb. 20 in Missoula.
Idaho’s men begin Year two of the Zac Claus era on Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 at Sacramento State, when the Idaho women are at home against the same school.
The Vandals reached the Big Sky Conference Tournament women’s title game last season, which was ultimately canceled.
Idaho head women’s coach Jon Newlee is thankful to have a schedule.
“I know the conference worked extremely hard to come up with a schedule that would allow us to play in this very difficult year. The model they came up with will allow us to do so and I am thankful for that,” Newlee said in a news release
“Even though it is vastly different than any conference season I have ever experienced, we will just focus on one series at a time whether it be home or away and roll with it.”
It’s unclear if fans will able to attend the games once the conference season starts, but the Big Sky said schools must adhere to state and local social distancing mandates.
Spokane County is in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, preventing large groups.
Other midmajor conferences are adopting similar conference schedules this season, including the Colonial Athletic Conference, which now has teams facing each other on consecutive nights.
Big Sky schools are still piecing together nonconference schedules. Sources close to EWU’s men’s scheduling confirmed that the Eagles will open their season Nov. 25 at Pac-12 Oregon.
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