Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule, already one of the best in program history, just got a whole lot better.
The long-discussed Gonzaga-UCLA contest is set for Nov. 23 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a GU source confirmed. It’s part of a multiteam event (MTE) with the Zags facing Central Michigan and UCLA taking on Bellarmine on Nov. 22.
ESPN is expected to televise the Gonzaga-UCLA game at 7 p.m. PT, according to NCAA.com’s Andy Katz.
The Zags and Bruins are typically No. 1 and No. 2 in way-too-early polls. CBS Sports’ Preseason Top 25 and 1 and Jon Rothstein’s 45 put Gonzaga at No. 1 and UCLA at No. 2. The order is reversed in Katz’s Power 36.
The Zags will remain in Las Vegas for a Nov. 26 showdown against Duke, a probable top 10 team, at T-Mobile Arena.
Some 5,000-6,000 Gonzaga fans travel to Las Vegas every March for the WCC Tournament at Orleans Arena. Zag fans will probably be in full force for three Gonzaga games, two versus likely top 10 foes, in Las Vegas sandwiched around the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Zags could also face the third-ranked team in the country. Gonzaga entertains Texas on Nov. 13 at the McCarthey Athletic Center, and the Longhorns, buoyed by the addition of several key transfers, have climbed into the top five in several polls. They’re No. 3 in CBS Sports’ rankings.
GU’s dates against UCLA, Texas and Duke will be at or near the top of the list of college basketball’s most highly anticipated non-conference games this season.
Gonzaga and UCLA staged one of the NCAA Tournament’s all-time classics when Jalen Suggs banked in a 40-footer at the buzzer to lift the Zags to a 93-90 overtime victory at the Final Four in April.
It was the second most-watched non-football sporting event since 2019 with 14.94 million viewers, only trailing the Gonzaga-Baylor national championship game (16.92 million). The 2021 Kentucky Derby (14.37 million) was third, followed by two 2020 World Series games and two 2021 NBA Finals games.
The Gonzaga-UCLA thriller won an ESPY award for Best Game of the year.
Gonzaga’s roster, led by Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard, has several new additions, including Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton and Chet Holmgren, the top-ranked player in the 2021 class.
The Bruins return all five starters from the April game and virtually every key player, including Johnny Juzang, who recently pulled his name from the NBA draft.
Gonzaga also meets Alabama on Dec. 4 in the return of the Battle in Seattle, Washington, on Dec. 12 and Texas Tech on Dec. 18 in Phoenix. Alabama jumped up six spots to No. 11 in the CBS Sports’ poll with starting guard Jaden Shackelford’s decision to return for his junior season.
Texas Tech is No. 29, in Katz’s rankings, after adding Oral Roberts’ transfer Kevin Obanor last week.
Central Michigan finished 7-16 last season, 3-13 in the Mid-American Conference. CMU was 11th by winning percentage in the 12-team MAC. The Chippewas hired Kentucky assistant Tony Barbee as head coach in April.
Gonzaga’s home schedule also includes Dixie State (Nov. 9), Bellarmine (Nov. 19) and Northern Arizona (Dec. 20).
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