Gonzaga continues to assemble a nonconference schedule that could rival some of the most challenging in program history.
In a rematch of the 2021 national championship game, Gonzaga will square off with Baylor as part of its nonconference schedule this fall, a source confirmed to The Spokesman-Review. The Bulldogs and Bears will hold the neutral-site game at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but a date is still to be determined. Rocco Miller of Bracketeer.org was the first to report the matchup.
It will be the first meeting since the second-ranked Bears beat the top-ranked and top-seeded Bulldogs 86-70 in the national championship on April 5, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The teams were also scheduled to play a neutral-site game in Indianapolis earlier the same season, but the nonconference contest was called off due to positive COVID-19 results in GU’s traveling party.
Baylor is losing three starters from a team that went 27-7 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to national runner-up North Carolina, but the Bears are still projected to be a top-10 or top-15 team in 2022-23. Baylor signed five-star prospect Keyonte George, the nation’s top-ranked high school shooting guard according to 247Sports.com, and added a pair of Division I transfers in Caleb Lohner (BYU) and Jalen Bridges (West Virginia).
Gonzaga, which recently signed LSU transfer center Efton Reid, is still waiting on decisions from Drew Timme, Julian Strawther and Rasir Bolton, who entered the NBA draft while retaining their college eligibility. Pending those decisions, the Bulldogs have been widely considered a top-10 preseason team, according to most outlets.
The opposing coaches, GU’s Mark Few and BU’s Scott Drew, are longtime friends who frequently met for competitive pickleball matches while both teams were sequestered inside the Indianapolis bubble. The Bulldogs hadn’t lost to the Bears prior to their 2021 meeting in the national championship, winning the five previous matchups between the teams in 2019, 2013, 2011, 2007 and 1992.
Gonzaga’s last game at the Sanford Pentagon came in December 2020 when the top-ranked Bulldogs beat Luka Garza and third-ranked Iowa 99-88.
Aside from Baylor, Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule is expected to include a handful of games against teams that will factor into the preseason Top 25 conversation.
The Bulldogs will fulfill the back end of a home-and-home series against the University of Texas, visiting the Longhorns on Nov. 16 for a highly anticipated game at the new Moody Center.
A date hasn’t been set for Gonzaga’s neutral-site game against Alabama, but the Bulldogs are expected to visit the Crimson Tide in Birmingham this fall after the teams met last December at the Battle in Seattle.
Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule also includes a week at the PK85 (Phil Knight Legacy) in Portland, where the Bulldogs will join a field that includes Duke, Florida, Oregon State, Portland State, Purdue, West Virginia and Xavier.
In March 2020, Gonzaga agreed to a home-and-home series with the University of Kansas, sending the Bulldogs to Lawrence this December and the Jayhawks to Spokane the following season. Given Gonzaga’s other nonconference arrangements, and the fact the Bulldogs and Jayhawks are part of the same field at the 2023 Maui Invitational, it’s unclear if the home-and-home will be shifted to a later date.
Gonzaga is also scheduled to host Pac-12 foe Washington after a 2021 game between the in-state foes was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Huskies’ program.