Unlike college football, where games and schedules are decided and agreed to years in advance, the college basketball scheduling process is much more fluid. Even though the Zags already have a difficult non-conference test with their participation in the Maui Invitational with Arizona, Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin among others, the Zags are always in need of finding strong non-conference opponents to boost their RPI before the soft WCC schedule. With that, and some general curiosity in mind, here are the five teams I would most like to see the Zags schedule for 2009-2010.
This game has a lot more to do with the Huskies willingness to play it than the Zags. A couple of years ago, Lorenzo Romar and the UW athletic department decided that they would no longer schedule the Zags. This seems like a no-brainer for both teams. Washington currently has three solid basketball programs with the Huskies, Zags, and Washington State, and the first two teams are likely to enter next season as top 20 teams.
Long Beach State
A matchup between the Zags and 49ers would pit Mark Few against his predecessor, Dan Monson, who is now the head coach at LBSU. During Monson's tenure at Minnesota he never scheduled his former team, so it is unlikely that now with a larger gap in talent that he would try and take on GU. Still, a matchup between Few and Monson would draw more than enough interest to make up for the difference in talent.
In recent years the Zags have scheduled Memphis ever year, and that game has served as a sort of de facto mid-major championship game. With the Tigers looking to be in a rebuilding phase, the Zags would be smart to schedule the Musketeers who are arguably the best mid-major going into 09-10. Xavier has been one of the most competitive March teams in the nation, having gone to the Elite 8 in 08, the Sweet Sixteen in 09, and coming within seconds of knocking off #1 Ohio State in the second round of the 2007 tournament. A mid-February game between these two teams would not only bring national attention to the teams, but help to get the squads prepared for the big dance.
The Zags have faced off against pretty much every major west coast college basketball program over the last decade, but for whatever reason, the Zags and Trojans have yet to meet. The Trojans lose a lot of players, but Tim Floyd has done a great job of restocking the cabinets and keeping SC talented and competitive. A matchup between these two teams would be fast paced, high scoring, and just overall great tv.
This one might be a bit of a stretch considering that with all the talent UK is bringing in, and the incredible expectations that have been placed on the Wildcats and new coach John Calipari, you'd think just about every team in the country wouldn't mind getting a shot at the Cats. However, as mentioned before, the Zags have played a John Calipari-led Memphis team the last few season, maybe Calipari is willing to continue that trend. Even if the Cats won't travel up to Spokane, an early season visit to Lexington might be just the kind of test the Zags will be looking for to find a team identity.