Gonzaga made its third-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season, winning one game before falling in the second round as a No. 5 seed, its first March Madness victory since 2015. Three of the team’s starters have moved on, but with plenty of talent returning and a proven program to support success, the Bulldogs should again compete for a postseason bid.
Before that, though, the team will have to take care of its non-conference slate, which includes marquee matchups with Stanford, Washington State, Missouri State and three games in the Gulf Coast Showcase.
In its third game of the season, Gonzaga will play at Stanford in one of its most difficult games of the season. The Cardinal are one of the greatest programs in the entire sport, and the Pac-12 coaches picked them to finish second in the conference behind only Oregon, receiving one endorsement as the league’s top team.
But there’s more here than just a chance to measure up against one of the game’s most elite. This series has become a regular thing the last 10 years, and although Stanford is 8-2 against the Zags, Gonzaga has taken two of the last three meetings, including last season in Spokane, 79-73. Continuing this rivalry, and succeeding in keeping up with its other half, would be massive for a Gonzaga program has become a consistent tournament team in the last decade. More will be needed to meet and surpass the Elite Eight run of 2011 again, which was ironically ended by Stanford, and keeping up with the Cardinal and turning this into a major national rivalry would be a huge step in the right direction.
From Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, the Bulldogs will participate in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, playing three guaranteed games through the event. To start things off, Gonzaga will face Dayton on Nov. 29, then tip off versus Auburn or Middle Tennessee the following day depending on game results. Arizona State, Purdue, Drake and Maine round out the rest of the field, and Gonzaga will meet one of those four in its final game of the tournament Dec. 1.
December is full of road dates for the Zags, with three of their five non-conference games in the month being played in foreign arenas. Gonzaga heads to Bozeman, Montana, to battle Montana State on Dec. 5, then will be in Pullman, Washington, three days later to take on Washington State, which has been picked to finished 10th in the Pac-12 by the league’s coaches. After a home event against Texas Southern on Dec. 14, Gonzaga again hits the road, this time to Laramie to take on Wyoming on Dec. 17.
To close out its out-of-league docket, Gonzaga will host Missouri State on Dec. 20. The Lady Bears are fresh off a run to the Sweet 16, their first since 2001, but it was enough to lure their head coach, Kellie Harper, away to take the same position at her alma mater, Tennessee, in the offseason. It remains to be seen what the team can do without Harper at the helm, but at least for the time being, this could be an important mid-major meeting for Gonzaga to pad its resume with decent wins.