Gonzaga rebounded in a big way from likely losing out on three games against Pac-12 competition with the addition of Baylor, potentially setting up a showdown of the top two teams in the nation.
The Zags and Bears have agreed to meet with the date and site yet to be determined, both head coaches confirmed to CBSsports.com.
“We will be playing Baylor this year in some form or fashion, as opportunities have opened up to do more of these type of games for the good of college basketball,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Gonzaga (31-2) and Baylor (26-4) had turns last season ranked No. 1 and both were projected as top seeds before the NCAA Tournament was canceled March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zags were second in the last AP poll with the Bears at No. 5.
Most preseason polls list Gonzaga and Baylor in the top five and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they occupied the top two spots.
“Our team has tremendous respect for the Gonzaga program,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Games like this really prepare you for conference play and give our fans something to get excited for heading into the season. Games like this are great for college basketball.”
The Pac-12’s recent decision to postpone competition until at least Jan. 1 probably erased contests against USC (Nov. 17 in Portland), Arizona (Dec. 5 in Spokane) and Washington (Dec. 12 in Spokane) from Gonzaga’s schedule. Few and Drew, whose team was scheduled to face Oregon in December in Las Vegas, quickly began having conversations about filling one of the gaps in their respective schedules.
The programs have several connections. John Jakus left his position as Gonzaga’s director of operations after the Zags’ run to the 2017 national championship game to become an assistant coach at Baylor. Former GU walk-on Rem Bakamus joined Baylor’s staff as a grad assistant in 2018.
Gonzaga won the most recent meeting, 83-71, in Salt Lake City in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Brandon Clarke scored 36 points in the victory. GU holds a 5-0 record all-time against the Bears.
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