One thing we have all sure learned in the past 7 months is there is no such thing as a sure thing.

But at least at this point, we University of Montana basketball fans can embrace the optimism of set schedules for our Griz and Lady Griz. How much in-person fan attendance might be allowed is a discussion for another time.

Nic Hallisey in the UM Sports Information Department tells us that today (Thursday), the Big Sky Conference announced its 2020-21 league schedules for men's and women's basketball: a 20-game slate that features back-to-back contests in the same venue.

The Big Sky moved to a 20-game league schedule prior to the 2018-19 season, but due to COVID-19, decided on a 16-game schedule in May. The conference again shifted gears with its latest model.

The revised schedule returning to 20 conference games appears to have the approval of the head coaches. Men's coach Travis DeCuire likes that fact that the 20-game slate guarantees more games for each school. Coach DeCuire noted that scheduling has become a challenge for a variety of reasons, so a 20-game Big Sky schedule requires fewer non-conference games to be filled. Secondly, while the back-to-back format, instead of traditional home-and-homes, will be different, DeCuire said it makes sense given the current climate of COVID-19.

Another twist to the schedule will be an early weekend of Big Sky Conference games. The Griz open Big Sky play at Southern Utah on Dec. 3 and 5, before resuming conference play again on Dec. 31. In between, and potentially prior to the Southern Utah trip, Montana will try to schedule an assortment of non-conference contests. Games can begin as soon as Nov. 25.

While the Grizzlies will play most teams twice, either at home or on the road, they will play both Eastern Washington and Montana State once at both locations. The women's schedule mirrors the men's. The Lady Griz will host Southern Utah Dec. 3 and 5, Sacramento State Jan. 21 and 23, Montana State Jan. 30, Portland State Feb. 4 and 6, Eastern Washington Feb. 18 and Idaho State Feb. 23 and 24.

Both the Griz and Lady Griz conference schedules are posted here.


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