The NCAA announced Wednesday afternoon that the Men’s/Women’s College Basketball will officially begin November 25, pushed back from the original November 10 start.
Scheduling is still up in the air, including both BYU’s conference and non-conference schedules. The NCAA announced teams will be able to play 27 games, down from the normal 31, and recommended a minimum of four non-conference games. Coach Mark Pope spoke to the media Thursday morning, and discussed BYU’s scheduling.
Below was BYU’s original non-conference slate.
- Boise State (H) — Nov 13
- Oregon (Neutral, in Portland) — Nov 17
- Junkanoo Jam (Bahamas, 2 games): George Mason, Tulsa, or Boston College — Nov 19-21
- UVU (H) — Nov 28
- San Diego State (A) — Dec 1
- Utah State (A) — Dec 5
- Utah (H) — Dec 12
- Arizona State (N, in Phoenix) — Dec 19
- Weber State (N, SLC) — Dec 23
The Pac 12 announced that it would push winter sports back to a January start date, but Pope is optimistic the Pac 12 may push that date forward, which would allow BYU to play Utah. “I think we both really want the game,” Pope said when speaking of the BYU-Utah game happening.
One other variable is The Junkanoo Jam. Pope said it is possible that the tournament may happen, but it would have to be pushed past the November 25 start and moved into the states. One source close to the program told Vanquish the Foe that the assumption is that BYU will need to look for another MTE (multi-team tournament) to replace that one. The Junkanoo Jam likely didn’t give BYU an opportunity to play tourney teams, so playing a different MTE could work in BYU’s favor.
BYU will likely keep some of the games already scheduled, including San Diego State, UVU, Weber State, Utah State, and Boise State. With the condensed schedule, however, BYU coaches are very aware that they will need a challenging non-conference schedule in order to bolster their NCAA tournament odds.
“We want to play the hardest schedule we can possibly play,” Pope said. “We want to play the best teams we can possibly play. If that means we’re flying to Florida and New York in a safe manner we’ll do it... We believe we have a good team... But I don’t want this season to go by without having the opportunity to play the best possible competition in the country to prove who we are.”
BYU loses a ton of production from last year’s team, but they return some key pieces and add transfers Richard Harward, Wyatt Lowell, Matt Haarms, Brandon Averette and newcomers Caleb Lohner, Spencer Johnson, Hunter Erickson, and Gideon George. We previewed all 17 players on BYU’s roster over the summer.
What BYU’s season will look like is up in the air, but coaches believe they have a NCAA Tournament team and will make sure to create a schedule to give this team a chance to go dancing.