With the uncertainty surrounding the Pac-12’s decision to play basketball in 2020, Washington basketball has a scheduling puzzle in its hands.
With the revelation that Washington basketball will resume play Nov. 25, there was a sigh of relief that a PaC-12 basketball season resembling anything close to normal will take place. But that also means that the Huskies staff will have to scramble if they intend to salvage their most important matchups — and practically everything is on the table.
Rescheduling, bubble tournaments, and the like are all still very murky, and there’s not much coming from athletic director Jen Cohen and co. regarding upcoming scheduling for that reason. The only things that we know for certain is that the conference is rolling with the NCAA’s Nov. 25 start date. But the Nov. 25 deadline gives plenty of room for the Huskies to enter the season with at least a decent understanding of how their schedule can work for and/or against them.
Every Pac-12 basketball program has been placed at a distinct scheduling disadvantage caused by the timing of the conference’s reversal. For over a month, every other program was under the impression that the Pac-12 was not going to play any basketball until January, and they scheduled accordingly. The majority of the conference’s noncon games that were originally canceled were replaced quickly by programs looking to stay on top of their schedules and cobble together a feasible slate to move forward with. For example, Gonzaga made an agreement with Baylor to replace one of their three planned Pac-12 matchups with the understanding that those games wouldn’t happen. Now, those teams have less flexibility for new matchups with UW and others entering the fold needing games.
As of right now, there are only two nonconference games officially on the Huskies’ schedule — Gonzaga in Spokane and Oklahoma on a neutral court in Las Vegas. Both of those should both be able to take place without too much modification.
Ensuring that a matchup with Gonzaga on the road happens is likely among UW’s priorities, and for good reason. The proximity between the two (UW is closer geographically to Gonzaga than any WCC team) and the obvious benefit they provide each other in terms of resume building should make this an easy one to prioritize. Gonzaga is a top-2 team in every major poll and ranking — they are a great team to play on the road with likely no fans, where the potential to catch them by surprise is greater and the drawbacks of losing are minimal. Even though Gonzaga has made efforts to fill out their schedule as much as they can as quickly as possible and have been public about it, it would be very surprising if this game didn’t take place in the same way that it usually does.
Another high-profile setup with Oklahoma for the Pac-12 Coast to Coast Challenge will be a bit dicier, but if the six-team showcase is switched over to a bubble setup, then it gives the possibility for exciting matchups. As of right now, the website for the challenge is still live and there’s been no announcement as to the status of the tournament, so it seems like the games are still going to be taking place until further notice.
Crossover games in bubble settings have been discussed for settings where multiple tournaments are being played in the same areas due to the proximity and logistical ease. In a similar vein, it would only make sense that games between the three Pac-12 (UW, Oregon, and Colorado) and three Big 12 teams (TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma) are on the table. UW could actually come out of Vegas with three high-profile games added to their resume instead of just one. The spacing isn’t the best, but it’s not unlike a traditional Thanksgiving weekend tournament. It also gives UW more gaps in scheduling to work with.
But beyond those two opportunities, we don’t know much about what’s going on with the Huskies. There’s a lot that is yet to fall into place, and if we’ve learned anything in the past few months it’s that literally anything can happen between now and the end of November.