BYU coach Steve Cleveland will guide BYU against a strong schedule featuring 16 games versus postseason teams from last year, including four who finished 2004 ranked in the top 25. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Schedule includes Maui Invitational, Delta Center contest and six potential games against teams from the ACC and Pac-10
PROVO -- Participating in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, a return trip to the Delta Center and six potential contests against Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-10 Conference opponents highlight the 2004-05 BYU men's basketball schedule announced today by head coach Steve Cleveland.
BYU will play 16 potential regular-season games against teams that qualified for postseason last year, including four ranked in the top 25 of the final 2004 poll.
"This is probably as good a schedule as we've had since I've been at BYU," Cleveland said. "I think the community and students will be excited about the quality of opponents we will play. We're committed to playing great teams to help our team reach its full potential."
The Cougars will play two teams from the ACC in the same season for the first time in nearly 50 years when they face possible preseason No. 1 North Carolina to open the season at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 22 and host North Carolina State in the Marriott Center on Dec. 21. The last time BYU had a schedule with two ACC teams was the 1955-56 season when the Cougars played at both NC State and Wake Forest.
NC State's visit to Provo this year also marks the first time an ACC team will face the Cougars on their home floor. Both North Carolina and NC State finished last season ranked in the top 25 and return strong teams. The Tar Heels are one of only two teams in the nation to have three players named to the preseason John R. Wooden Award list, while the ACC runner-up Wolfpack are led by fellow Wooden Award candidate Julius Hodge, the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-America selection by ESPN.com.
BYU will also play a minimum of three Pac-10 teams, with a fourth Pac-10 foe, Stanford, a possible second-round opponent at the Maui Invitational. After playing North Carolina in the tournament's prime-time, opening-day nationally televised game on ESPN2, the Cougars will meet either the Pac-10 Champion Cardinal (30-2 last year) or the Southeastern Conference's Tennessee Volunteers in the second round. The final day will pit Texas, Louisville, Iowa or host Chaminade against the Cougars.
After a well-received debut last year against Oklahoma State, the Cougars will again play a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. The Cougars of Washington State will join BYU for a Dec. 11 contest on the home floor of the Utah Jazz. BYU's other games against Pac-10 opponents include the regular-season home opener against California on Nov. 27 and a road game at USC on Dec. 4.
The first of four instate games during December tips off on Dec. 1 when BYU travels to Logan for the second straight season to challenge Big West Champion Utah State. BYU and Utah State will meet twice in the same season for the first time since 1992 when the Aggies return to Provo on Dec. 18 for a rematch in the Marriott Center. The Cougars will sandwich Christmas around games against Weber State in Ogden on Dec. 23 and versus Southern Utah in Provo on Dec. 28.
Two other tough opponents will grace the Marriott Center court prior to the new year, with Boise State coming to Provo on Dec. 8 and Santa Clara helping BYU close out 2004 with a Dec. 31 contest. The Broncos out of the Western Athletic Conference finished 23-10 last year, including a 2-1 NIT record, while the Broncos of the West Coast Conference finished 16-16 after losing 63-62 to top-5 ranked Gonzaga in their conference tournament semifinals.
BYU travels to California to play Saint Mary's, a 19-12 team and West Coast Conference finalist last year, on Jan. 4 prior to starting MWC action in Provo against San Diego State on Jan. 8. Before resuming its MWC schedule, the Cougars will take one more dip into nonconference play on Jan. 11 when they host Montana State-Billings. The Pacific West Conference team led NCAA Division II teams with 12.4 threes per game last year and was fourth in scoring at 93.1 points per game.
"Our preseason should create great opportunities to prepare for conference and postseason play." Cleveland said. "The Mountain West Conference is full of veteran teams returning top players. Obviously, we lost a lot of significant contributors from last year, but we plan to be competitive and compete for the conference championship. I want this team to learn to reach its full potential, to focus on being the best it can be. If we do, with this schedule, we'll have a chance to reach our goals in January and February."
After its MWC opener with SDSU, BYU takes the Front Range road swing for two television contests. The Cougars face Colorado State on Jan. 15 in the weekly MWC Game of the Week on ESPN+Plus at 1 p.m. The Wyoming Cowboys then host BYU on Jan. 17 in the first of two 10 p.m. (MST) ESPN games featuring the Cougars.
BYU hosts reigning regular-season champion Air Force on Jan. 22 and New Mexico on Jan. 24 before playing instate rival Utah on Jan. 31 in a 10 p.m. ESPN tip in the Marriott Center. After the three-game home stand, BYU travels to UNLV (Feb. 5) and San Diego State (Feb. 7), with the game in Las Vegas slated for ESPN+Plus.
Return games in Provo against Wyoming (Feb. 12) and Colorado State (Feb. 14) and road contests at New Mexico (Feb. 19) and Air Force (Feb. 21) precede BYU's rematch with Utah in Salt Lake City on Feb. 26. The Cougars and reigning MWC Tournament Champion Utes play at 1 p.m. in the featured Saturday game on ESPN+Plus.
BYU concludes the regular season against UNLV in the Marriott Center on Mar. 5. The MWC Tournament will be conducted for the second straight year at the Pepsi Center in Denver, March 10-12.
As part of preparing for its challenging schedule, BYU should receive some tougher-than-usual tests in its two exhibition games. After the Cougar Tipoff on Oct. 29, Cleveland will see how his young squad performs against BYU-Hawaii on Nov. 5 and the University of Calgary on Nov. 12.
The Cougars' Division II sister school from Laie, Hawaii, won the Pacific West Conference title last year with a 23-6 record and features two former Cougars in All-American Jake Chrisman and point guard Shawn Opunui. Last year the Seasiders defeated three Division I teams with victories over Baylor, Northern Illinois and San Jose State. Calgary, meanwhile, posted a 25-11 record as one of Canada's top four teams, advancing to the semifinals of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championship.
"We have two challenging exhibition games, which should really help us," said Cleveland, who has seven sophomores and three freshmen on his roster in 2003-04. "I have a lot of respect for Ken Wagner and the success he has achieved at Dixie and BYU-Hawaii. In both exhibitions, we will play against two well-coached teams that have proven programs."
Including the Tipoff and exhibitions, Cougar fans will be able to see BYU play 17 games in the Marriott Center and one contest at the Delta Center. The regular season also includes 11 games on the road and four on a neutral floor. Three games will be nationally televised on ESPN or ESPN2 and three will be featured on ESPN+Plus. All MWC Tournament games will also be televised on either ESPN or ESPN+Plus. Additional television games are still to be determined.
BYU's schedule includes 10 teams that finished in the top three in their respective league standings, with eight finishing as either the league champion or runner-up. Seven teams played in the NCAA Tournament and five were invited to the NIT, while eight opponents achieved 20-win seasons last year. North Carolina, North Carolina State, Stanford and Texas all finished the season in the final top-25 rankings.
Nine nonconference opponents played BYU last season. The Cougars achieved a 6-3 record in those games with home wins over USC (85-61), Weber State (86-65), Saint Mary's (70-55) and Southern Utah (88-54) and road victories over Boise State (75-69) and Santa Clara (68-66). The three setbacks came on the road at California (47-46), Utah State (76-74) and North Carolina State (89-62). BYU will meet Montana State-Billings for the first time and could also have its first-ever game against Chaminade should the two schools meet at the Maui Invitational.
BYU returns six lettermen from last year's 21-9 NCAA Tournament team, including three players with starting experience in senior guard Mike Hall, senior forward/center Jared Jensen and sophomore forward Garner Meads. The Cougars will be without the services of five of the eight players who played double-digit minutes a year ago and four of the team's top five scorers, including All-American center Rafael Araujo -- the No. 8 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Three true freshman and three junior college transfers are among the nine players on this year's roster who did not suit up last season for the Cougars.
2004-05 BYU Men's Basketball Schedule
29 (Fri.) Cougar Tipoff Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
5 (Fri.) BYU-Hawaii (exhibition) Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
12 (Fri.) Univ. of Calgary (exhib.) Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
22-24 @ EA Sports Maui Invitational Maui, Hawaii
22 (Mon.) vs. North Carolina 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
23 (Tue.) vs. Stanford or Tennessee 11 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. (TV-TBA)
24 (Wed.) vs. Texas, Louisville,
Iowa or Chaminade TBA (TV-TBA)
27 (Sat.) California Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
1 (Wed.) @ Utah State Logan, Utah TBA
4 (Sat.) @ USC Los Angeles TBA
8 (Wed.) Boise State Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
11 (Sat.) vs. Washington State
@ Delta Center Salt Lake City 4:05 p.m.
18 (Sat.) Utah State Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
21 (Tue.) North Carolina State Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
23 (Thu.) @ Weber State Ogden, Utah TBA
28 (Tue.) Southern Utah Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
31 (Fri.) Santa Clara Provo, Utah 1:05 p.m.
4 (Tue.) @ Saint Mary's Moraga, Calif. TBA
8 (Sat.) *San Diego State Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
11 (Tue.) Montana State-Billings Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
15 (Sat.) *@ Colorado State Fort Collins, Colo. 1:05 p.m. (ERT)
17 (Mon.) *@ Wyoming Laramie, Wyo. 10 p.m. (ESPN)
22 (Sat.) *Air Force Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
24 (Mon.) *New Mexico Provo, Utah 8:30 p.m.
31 (Mon.) *Utah Provo, Utah 10 p.m. (ESPN)
5 (Sat.) *@ UNLV Las Vegas Noon (ERT)
7 (Mon.) *@ San Diego State San Diego TBA
12 (Sat.) *Wyoming Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
14 (Mon.) *Colorado State Provo, Utah 8:30 p.m.
19 (Sat.) *@ New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M. TBA
21 (Mon.) *@ Air Force USAFA, Colo. TBA
26 (Sat.) *@ Utah Salt Lake City 1:05 p.m. (ERT)
5 (Sat.) *UNLV Provo, Utah 7:05 p.m.
10-12 @ MWC Tournament Denver, Colo. TBA (ESPN, ERT)
Times are local to site and subject to change
* MWC Game
ERT -- ESPN+Plus broadcast of ESPN Regional Television
Additional television games are yet to be determined