The West Coast Conference announced its 2017-18 men’s basketball schedule on Tuesday — and the slate looks pretty familiar for BYU.
The Cougars will start out conference play with a homestand just after Christmas when they host Portland on December 28 and what many expect to be a nationally ranked St. Mary’s squad on December 30.
The timing of the tilt with the Gaels is notable, because it falls during BYU’s winter break, meaning many students won’t be on campus on the time. This isn’t the first time the Cougars have been dealt this kind of hand — big home games against St. Mary’s and Gonzaga have also fallen over the holidays in past seasons, but the BYU faithful has yet to fail to pack the Marriott Center and make themselves heard.
Starting the conference slate with those two home games also means that the Cougars won’t play a game outside the state of Utah between their November 25 contest with Massachusetts in Brooklyn, N.Y., and their first WCC road trip to San Francisco on January 4. That’s a run of nine consecutive local games, including six true home games in Provo. That stretch should help BYU refuel and prepare for the inevitable grind of conference play.
The Cougars’ longest road stretch will come near the end of the season, when they play three consecutive games away from home against Pepperdine, San Diego and Portland — all programs that have beaten BYU on their respective home floors in recent years. Even though none of those programs would be counted among the WCC’s perennial powers, the games should provide a series of tough tests for a Cougar team that may be tempted to look toward what awaits them at home: their final matchup of the season with national runners-up Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs and Cougars will first tangle at Spokane’s McCarthey Athletic Center on February 3 — a building where BYU has, against all odds, collected three consecutive upset wins over the mighty Zags in as many seasons. Gonzaga will then look to return the favor from last year, when BYU memorably tarnished their undefeated record in the season’s final game, when they visit Provo on February 24. The Zags are again expected to be among the nation’s best teams and they’ll undoubtedly have tons of motivation to regain the upper hand against the Cougars — making both games dates that all college hoops fans should circle on their calendars.
To explore the rest of BYU’s now-completed schedule for the upcoming 2017-18 basketball season, click here.