After initially planning on a recreation, then having these plans fall via, preseason nationwide title contenders Gonzaga and UCLA have lastly figured issues out as soon as extra and agreed to play one another subsequent season, sources advised CBS Sports activities.
The 2 groups — which rank first and second in CBS Sports activities’ Early Prime 25 And 1 — will play at Las Vegas’ T-Cellular Enviornment as headliners of a four-school multi-team occasion (MTE) on Nov. 22 and 23. The opposite two groups within the occasion are Bellarmine and Central Michigan, sources stated. Gonzaga and UCLA will face off on Nov. 23. Gonzaga will face Central Michigan, UCLA will play Bellarmine on Nov. 22.
The Bulldogs and Bruins have been closely courted by different organizers to play at three different venues: Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Enviornment, Los Angeles’ Staples Heart and the Chase Heart, in San Francisco. The sport had been informally agreed to since late Might, however authorized rigmarole with contracts held up proceedings till the all-clear was lastly given this week.
Gonzaga and UCLA in fact met within the 2021 Ultimate 4 in Indianapolis, a 93-90 additional time win by then-undefeated Gonzaga that included what’s already acknowledged as one of the crucial magnificent pictures within the sport’s historical past: Jalen Suggs’ 37-footer that banked in as time expired to clinch the W for the Zags in additional time.
As Gary Parrish wrote in Might, video games of this magnitude usually are not solely nice for faculty basketball, but it surely’s particularly the best way Gonzaga and UCLA deliberately sought to play one another. Each groups are thought to be Ultimate 4 favorites; that may be a scheduling behavior that each coach of each Ultimate 4-level staff ought to pursue every November. The fact is we solely get it periodically in school hoops. Think about if each November and December we may rely on, say, no less than six or seven video games that includes high 20-level groups on objective. What a boon that may be.
The unusual backstory of how we acquired right here: UCLA vs. Gonzaga solely grew to become a risk as a result of colleges’ involvements with different MTEs, which fell via within the spring. A uncommon snafu with contracts enabled the faculties (and a few others) to stroll away from these November 2021 occasions as a result of the venues pitched, and initially agreed to, wound up not being the venues that have been going to be internet hosting video games. Gonzaga was initially lined as much as play within the Empire Traditional, whereas UCLA was to take part within the Legends Traditional. As a consequence of each of these MTEs now not being booked at Barclays Heart and Madison Sq. Backyard — as initially agreed to — and as a substitute being moved to the Prudential Heart in Newark, New Jersey, it prompted the groups to hunt video games elsewhere.
So right here we’re. An sudden however much-welcomed plot twist. Having a rematch of that Ultimate 4 epic is terrific, and all of the extra as a result of UCLA star Johnny Juzang opted to return for his junior season, which locked in Mick Cronin’s staff as a top-five squad heading into subsequent season. Juzang, a 6-foot-6 wing, averaged 22.8 factors (together with a personal-best 29 vs. Gonzaga) within the NCAA Match.
The sport can even improve Gonzaga’s always-hefty array of nonconference opponents. Coming off statistically the most effective season in class historical past, Mark Few has additionally scheduled his staff to play towards Duke in Las Vegas, towards Alabama in Seattle, towards Texas Tech in Phoenix and towards Texas and Washington in on-campus dwelling tilts for the Zags.
UCLA has a high-profile matchup vs. North Carolina within the CBS Sports activities Traditional, along with street video games towards UNLV and Marquette. However no common season recreation for both staff will deliver extra consideration than this one in Vegas. A Gonzaga-UCLA matchup will probably be the second-most anticipated recreation of the primary three weeks of the season, solely surpassed by Duke vs. Kentucky within the Champions Traditional on opening night time, which is able to mark recreation No. 1 of Mike Krzyzewski’s closing season at Duke.