(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
BOZEMAN -- The Montana State men's basketball 2019-20 season schedule is set under first year head coach Danny Sprinkle. The upcoming year's schedule features a collection of nonconference opponents with postseason aspirations and a grueling conference slate that leads to the Big Sky tournament in March in Boise.
The 31-game regular season slate includes matchups both home and away against every Big Sky Conference opponent. Montana State will play 11 nonconference games to prepare for Big Sky action. Of the Bobcats' nine games against Division I nonconference foes, seven take place against teams that appeared in a postseason tournament a season ago. That includes a trip to begin the regular season on Nov. 5 to Logan, Utah, to face the Utah State Aggies.
"It's a very challenging schedule," Sprinkle said. "We'll be opening up at Utah State which won the Mountain West Conference last year and played in the NCAA tournament. They have everybody back and a couple guys that are NBA players. They'll probably be a top 20 team in the country. It will be a tremendous opener for us at their place. A great atmosphere and environment for our guys to compete in."
Montana State, which will play an exhibition contest versus Yellowstone Christian in Bozeman on Oct. 30, makes its official Worthington Arena debut of the Sprinkle era on Nov. 9 by hosting Rocky Mountain. The Bobcats follow their home opener up with a trip to North Carolina to play in the UNC Greensboro Holiday Tournament from Nov. 15-17. UNCG – which was the last team left out of the field of 68 for the 2019 NCAA tournament – hosts MSU, Appalachian State and Tennessee Tech at the Greensboro Coliseum in the round robin event. MSU is 3-3 all-time against Appalachian State with the teams last meeting in 1997. The Bobcats will face the Spartans and Golden Eagles for the first time.
The Bobcats end the road trip by traveling to Phoenix, Arizona, to take on Grand Canyon in GCU Arena on Nov. 19. It will be MSU's second time taking on the Antelopes, falling to GCU 61-45 in their lone matchup in Phoenix on Nov. 17, 2014.
"UNCG is an NCAA tournament caliber team and they've been tremendous with coach (Wes) Miller," Sprinkle said. "We'll be traveling down south which is never easy, but it'll be fun for our guys to see a different part of the country.
"We'll be playing Grand Canyon in one of the best atmospheres in the country. That'll be an awesome experience for our guys. There's going to be timeouts where they won't be able to hear me talk and I may not be able to hear them. We're going to have to be able to find a way to communicate and get through some adversity. That should prepare us for some places in conference where it is loud."
Montana State returns home to play three consecutive games inside Worthington Arena. MSU opens the homestand against Colorado Christian on Nov. 26. The Bobcats then welcome the Green Bay Phoenix on Nov. 30 for the teams' third all-time matchup and first since 2005. The calendar flips to December for their next contest when the Bobcats take on South Dakota State. MSU and SDSU meet for the fourth time ever when the Jacks visit Bozeman on Dec. 5.
"We have Wisconsin Green Bay and South Dakota State coming to Brick Breeden Fieldhouse which I'm really excited about," Sprinkle said. "Both of them are NCAA tournament type teams. South Dakota State made it three years in a row recently and Wisconsin Green Bay plays an exciting brand of basketball. They'll probably be picked to win their conference this year, I'd be surprised if they weren't."
MSU closes out its nonconference schedule with two games on the road. The Bobcats take on reigning Summit League champion North Dakota State in Fargo on Dec. 16, then travel to California to face CSU Bakersfield on Dec. 19.
"Coach (Rod) Barnes at CSU Bakersfield is one of the best coaches in the country," Sprinkle said. "He's done a great job there and they were in the NCAA tournament a couple years ago. They've got a good team coming back so that'll be another challenging game.
"North Dakota State was young last year and they went to the NCAA tournament. We have to go to their place. There's kind of a theme to this. A lot of teams we're playing are NCAA tournament teams. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us, especially with a young team. It's all for the purpose of preparing us for the league."
The 20-game tour of the Big Sky Conference begins on Dec. 28 for the Bobcats when they take on Sacramento State in Worthington Arena. A slew of conference foes will make their way to Bozeman as MSU hosts two games apiece in December and January. Four home contests take place in February including the annual Cat-Griz matchup versus Montana on Feb. 22. The Bobcats wrap up the regular season with two consecutive home games before traveling to the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise which begins on March 9.
To view MSU's complete 2019-20 men's basketball schedule, please click here.