Gonzaga men’s basketball has been officially scheduled to play Baylor University Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. at Indianapolis’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The matchup between the preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country will have no fans in attendance, but will be covered by CBS television network as the network’s inaugural college basketball game this season.
This game was originally agreed upon by both programs on Aug. 17, as a means to fill scheduling voids that arose for both teams upon the initial cancellation of all PAC-12 sports for the rest of 2020. Both the Bulldogs and the Bears had potential matchups in place with PAC-12 opponents for late November into December, so as those opportunities fell through, that gave rise to available spots on the teams’ schedules that they agreed to fill by squaring off against each other.
The particulars of when the game would commence had been in limbo for nearly two months as the NCAA has had to work through the details of when the season could start and in what format it would be played. After confirmation on Sept. 16 that the basketball season would be underway on Nov. 25 with a maximum of 23 games allowed on each team’s schedule, the two schools began ironing out the details of this much anticipated matchup.
The two schools and the NCAA have been working with Pacer Sports & Entertainment and Indiana Sports Corp. to arrange a controlled environment that can accommodate the health and safety of players and coaches while in Indianapolis, and the operation is being overseen by the Marion County Health Department to ensure that it will adhere to COVID-19 regulations.
These two top-rated teams have a chance to match up with each other in Indianapolis once again in March during the 2021 NCAA tournament, meaning that their Dec. 5 face-off has major implications in the eyes of college basketball analysts for who will come out on top during the postseason.
Gonzaga has won all five times they’ve played against Baylor in the program’s history, with the most recent victory coming in 2019 when the Zags beat the Bears 83-71 in the second round of that year’s NCAA tournament.
There’s a reason that both teams are regarded as the most prestigious in the country heading into this season. GU and Baylor shared the most time atop the AP poll ranking during last season, with the Bulldogs ranked as No. 1 for four weeks and Baylor ranked at the top spot for five weeks.
Both schools boast a squad this season that is anticipated to be stronger than what each team showcased on the court last year. The Zags possess a deep roster of new and returning standouts, like freshman Jalen Suggs and senior Corey Kispert who are both members of the WCC Preseason First-Team, along with 6’5” guard Joel Ayayi and emerging forward Drew Timme.
The Bears are also returning some substantial assets to their roster, such as Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist from last year Mark Vital and junior guard Jared Butler, who’s promoted as an All-American candidate for this season.
According to Gonzaga Athletics’ website, this is the only scheduled game outside of tournament/invitational games on the 2020-21 schedule that has been confirmed since other matchups, like the Zags proposed Dec. 19 matchup against Texas Tech, have still yet to be finalized.