LAS VEGAS, Nev. — According to the scheduling whisperer, CBS Sport’s Jon Rothstein, UAB will face West Coast Conference powerhouse Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend.
The neutral site game will be held at Orleans Arena – site of the annual West Coast Conference Championship. It’s worth a gander if you’re not familiar with it’s bizarre horseshoe shape.
Most of us couldn’t say the last time we watched a WCC game, much less a Saint Mary’s game. Saint Mary’s College located 2,300 miles and two time zones away in Moraga, Calif. has reached the Sweet 16 as recently as 2010 and has been pumping out Aussie greats such as Patty Mills (Spurs) and Matthew Dellavedova (Cavs) who both are playing for the Australian national team in Rio.
Coming off a 29 win season and a trip to the quarterfinals of the NIT, the Gael’s return their top six contributors from the team who shared the WCC regular season title with Gonzaga and finished two games ahead of BYU. Yes, Brigham Young University – aka the team who dealt us the pounding in Provo and sent us packing to wait for the next ball to be tipped this November.
I won’t dig in to the X’s and O’s and the Jim and Joes of Saint Mary’s at this time. We’ll save that for November when we’ll have a better feel for their active roster and ours.
In the mean time, believe me when I tell you this will be one of UAB’s toughest games this season. Both of these teams have the roster and experience to win their respective conferences and advance in the NCAA tournament.
The two teams are scheduled to play Sunday, Nov. 27 (Time TBD), and I suspect this game will be picked up by a major TV network. The Blazers will wrap up their time at the CBE tournament in Kansas City the 21 and 22, and one would imagine they’d fly to Las Vegas straight from there.
Game planning to face Kansas, Georgia/Georgia Washington, and Saint Mary’s within a weeks’ time, while far from home, will be a monumental task for Coach Ehsan and crew. If that wasn’t enough, UAB will play Auburn in Birmingham just six days after the Gael’s.
Those lobbying for better scheduling … get ready for a gauntlet.