Seattle’s expecting 90-degree weather on Wednesday, but that didn’t stop leaves from falling from trees to signal fall and the start of the NCAA basketball season. Washington’s D-I schools are gearing up for some highly anticipated seasons, Tuesday being the Pac-12′s official first look at who’s playing who. (Yeah, some PR blip caused an early posting of UW’s sked. Considering the talent Montlake is expecting this season, you can understand why it jumped the gun)
The Pac-12′s 266-game schedule tips Nov. 8. The conference will make a league-record over 100 television appearances during the regular season, including 101 telecasts on the Pac-12 Networks and five on the ESPN networks as part of the conference’s television package. Among those 106 appearances, all nine games of the Pac-12 Tournament at KeyArena in Seattle will be televised, with nine appearing on the Pac-12 Networks and the championship game on ESPN on March 9.
ESPN2 will also televise the USC at Stanford contest on Jan. 27, 2014 for the Pac-12′s first-ever “Big Monday” appearance. Stanford will travel to California on February 2 for an ESPN2-televised game, while Washington hosts the Cardinal on ESPNU on Feb. 9.
Stanford’s trip to UConn on Nov. 11 is part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. The game from Storrs will air on ESPN2. USA Basketball recently announced UConn coach Geno Auriemma would return to coach the national team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Cal, which won its first share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship last season, will be on ESPN2 on Dec. 22 taking on defending NCAA Champion Connecticut in the Maggie Dixon Classic.
The Pac-12 Tournament at KeyArena will be March 6-9.
UW opens the conference season by hosting the Arizona schools on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5. Washington was 4-0 against the desert schools last season to help the team finish fifth in the Pac-12. Washington’s conference opener is against the Wildcats at 7 p.m.
Washington State will have 11 games televised by the Pac-12 Networks. The Cougs make their Pac-12 Networks season debut in their final nonconference game, hosting Gonzaga on Dec. 21 at 11:30 a.m. in Beasley Coliseum.
WSU opens conference play with a three-game homestand beginning with Arizona State (Jan. 3), Arizona (Jan. 5 on Pac-12 Networks) and the cross-state rivalry with UW on Jan. 7 on Pac-12 Networks. WSU travels to Seattle for the second game on Jan. 11 on Pac-12 Networks.
The Zags begin the 2013-14 West Coast Conference reglar-season playing seven of their first nine games on the road, including the Dec. 28 season-opener at Saint Mary’s. The Gaels tied for third in league last season.
“It is not ideal to start with seven of nine conference games on the road,” GU coach Kelly Graves said. “However, you have to play everybody twice and it works itself out in the end.”
And the flip side is the Zags close out the conference season with seven of nine games at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Eastern Washington announced its schedule earlier this month, playing a total of six squads that advanced to postseason player last year. Nonconference opponents Iowa State and Gonzaga made the NCAA Tournament last year while Butler earned a bid to the WNIT, respectively, and will provide a stern test for the Eagles. Montana was the Big Sky’s representative to the NCAA Tournament while Idaho State and Northern Colorado each earned bids to the WNIT.
The Eagles open Big Sky schedule at home, playing its first three league matchups at Reese Court. EWU takes on Portland State on Dec. 29, to kick-off league play before welcoming Weber State (Jan. 2) and Idaho State (Jan. 4) to Cheney. The Big Sky tournament is slated for March 13-15.
Eastern returns four starters and nine letter winners from last year’s squad that earned a WNIT bid for the second time in school history. The Eagles finished third in the Big Sky with a 14-6 league mark and advanced to the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament.
COACHING CHANGE: Seattle U coach Joan Bonvicini hired Derek Liebert, the current Storm director of basketball operations, as her new assistant. A Xavier grad, Liebert replaces Dorena Bingham. Liebert’s primary responsibility with the team will be recruiting for the defending regular-season Western Athletic Conference champions.