MSU hoops going big early in 2014-15

2014-07-01T17:30:00Z 2014-07-01T18:32:15Z MSU hoops going big early in 2014-15Greg Rachac The Billings Gazette

Montana State’s women released their basketball schedule on Tuesday, and there are a couple big non-conference games listed: at Boise State on Nov. 14, Gonzaga at home on Nov. 21, Wyoming at home on Dec. 6, and at Washington State on Dec. 20. Oh, and the doubleheaders have been reinstated for the Cat-Griz men’s and women’s games on Jan. 17 (in Missoula) and March 7 (in Bozeman).

But there’s bigger news on the horizon. MSU’s men’s schedule has yet to be released, but word out of the athletic department is that there will be some cool non-conference matchups for 2014-15, in particular games at UCLA of the Pac-12 on Nov. 14 and at iconic Rupp Arena to face SEC power Kentucky the day after the Cat-Griz football game (Nov. 23).

Those games, in fact, are bookend contests on a season-opening, five-game road trip that will take the Bobcats from coast to coast. Here’s how that trip will shake out:

• Nov. 14 at UCLA

• Nov. 17 at Grand Canyon

• Nov. 19 at Cal State Northridge

• Nov. 21 at Buffalo

• Nov. 23 at Kentucky 

MSU’s men also have booked a home-and-home with Wyoming (in Laramie on Dec. 14 and in Bozeman on Dec. 23), a rekindling of the old Border War. The Bobcats' home-opener will be Nov. 28 vs. Texas Arlington. They'll also welcome North Dakota State to Worthington Arena on Nov. 30.

First-year Bobcats coach Brian Fish isn’t wasting any time pitting his team against a couple of the nation’s top programs. UCLA went 28-9 and made it to the Sweet 16 in Steve Alford’s first season in Westwood. And Kentucky, under John Calipari, made a run to the national title game last year. Both will be highly ranked in the preseason polls. And these games will probably be pretty good for MSU's pocketbook, too.

The Bruins and Wildcats, interestingly, will play each other in the “CBS Sports Classic” at the United Center in Chicago on Dec. 20.

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