Featuring 12 games against postseason participants from last season – including five against 2019 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Iowa, Saint Mary's, North Dakota State and defending Big West Conference champion UC Irvine – six first-time opponents and programs from 15 different conferences, the Cal Poly men's basketball program released its 2019-20 regular season schedule on Monday morning.
Also highlighted by road matchups at Creighton and San Diego State and participation in the 2019 Las Vegas Invitation at the Orleans Arena, Cal Poly's 2019-20 schedule also includes 13 home dates inside Mott Athletics Center – including December meetings with Fresno State, CSU Bakersfield and Siena.
"The Big West is one of the most competitive conferences in the country. Not only do you have to contend with great players, but the Big West also possesses some of the top basketball minds at our level, from a coaching standpoint," Smith said. "When setting up our schedule, we were cognizant of creating a competitive stretch that allows for growth through challenges leading into the Big West. I was fortunate to inherit a schedule from the previous coaching staff that does just that.
"We'll be able to see how we measure up against some teams from power five conferences, as well as some of the best programs in California. We love the number of games in California (22) because it always bodes well for recruiting and alumni purposes. To top things off, we'll start with our foreign tour of London, playing against four professional clubs. Needless to say, we're excited about the challenges that lie ahead as we go through the process of building a championship-caliber team."
FOREIGN TOUR (SEPTEMBER)
With NCAA programs allowed a foreign tour every four years, Cal Poly's competitive schedule begins with four games during the program's Sept. 1-9 trip to London. Cal Poly's schedule includes multiple games against clubs from the British Basketball League – including a Friday, Sept. 6 meeting with the defending league champion London Lions.
NON-CONFERENCE (NOVEMBER-EARLY JANUARY)
Following the program's first official practice on Thursday, Oct. 10, Cal Poly will enjoy 29 days of preparation prior to its Friday, Nov. 8 regular season opening matchup at Santa Clara (16-15, 8-8 West Coast Conference). Three nights later, Cal Poly visits defending Summit League Tournament champion and first-time opponent North Dakota State (19-16, 9-7). The matchup also marks Cal Poly's first game in the Peace Garden State. A No. 16 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament, North Dakota State edged North Carolina Central in the First Four (78-74) before falling to top-seeded Duke (85-62).
Cal Poly's 13-game home schedule begins on Friday, Nov. 15 versus NAIA Simpson (17-11, 9-5 Cal Pac). All of Cal Poly's matchups inside Mott Athletics Center will tip at 7 p.m.
The program's lengthiest road trip of the season – six games – begins at defending West Coast Conference Tournament champion Saint Mary's (22-12, 11-5) on Sunday, Nov. 17. After topping Gonzaga to earn the WCC's automatic NCAA Tournament bid, the 11th-seeded Gaels dropped an opening-round matchup to No. 6 Villanova (61-57).
The road trip continues at Creighton (20-15, 9-9 Big East) on Friday, Nov. 22 and at first-time opponent Iowa (23-12, 10-10 Big Ten) on Sunday, Nov. 24. Facing a Big East program for the first time since visiting DePaul on Dec. 21, 2011, Cal Poly's trip to Creighton marks the first meeting between the two sides since Dec. 19, 1956. Creighton was an NIT quarterfinalist in 2019, defeating Loyola-Chicago and Memphis before being eliminated by eventual champion TCU.
Playing the program's first game in the Hawkeye State, Cal Poly's visit to Iowa marks its first matchup versus a Big Ten opponent since falling at Wisconsin during the 2009-10 season. A No. 10 seed for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, Iowa topped Cincinnati (79-72) in the first round before being eliminated by second-seeded Tennessee (83-77).
Cal Poly closes November with two more matchups as part of the Las Vegas Invitational inside the Orleans Arena on Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29. Possible foes include first-time opponents Tennessee State (9-21, 6-12 Ohio Valley) and LIU Brooklyn (16-16, 9-9 Northeast Conference) and North Florida (16-17, 9-7 Atlantic Sun). Cal Poly won its bracket at the 2011 Las Vegas Invitational, topping Morgan State and Mississippi Valley State.
Four of Cal Poly's final six non-conference games occur inside Mott Athletics Center, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 7 versus Siena (17-16, 11-7 Metro Atlantic) and Saturday, Dec. 14 against Fresno State (23-9, 13-5 Mountain West). The Mustangs visit Sacramento State (15-16, 8-12 Big Sky) on Wednesday, Dec. 18 in a matchup postponed one year due to the 2018 Camp Fire before hosting CSU Bakersfield (18-16, 7-9) on Saturday, Dec. 21. The Roadrunners reached the quarterfinals of the 2019 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
The Mustangs close the 2019 calendar year at San Diego State (21-13, 11-7 MWC) on Saturday, Dec. 28 – the program's first visit to Viejas Arena since dropping a 51-45 decision to the then-No. 10 Aztecs on Dec. 13, 2010 – before opening 2020 versus NAIA Vanguard (25-7, 13-5 GSAC) on Friday, Jan. 3. Vanguard, which finished last season ranked No. 10 in the final NAIA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll, qualified for the NAIA National Championship.
BIG WEST CONFERENCE (JANUARY-MARCH)
Cal Poly starts its 26th season of Big West action with a two-game home stand versus Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara (22-10, 10-6) on Wednesday, Jan. 8 and CSUN (13-21, 7-9) on Saturday, Jan. 11
Cal Poly's lengthiest Big West road trip then opens at Hawai'i (18-13, 9-7) on Thursday, Jan. 16, continues versus UC Riverside (10-23, 4-12) on Thursday, Jan. 23 and closes at defending Big West regular season and tournament champion UC Irvine (31-6, 15-1) on Saturday, Jan. 25. A No. 13 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament, UC Irvine toppled fourth-seeded Kansas State in the opening round (70-63) before falling to No. 12 Oregon (73-54).
The Mustangs continue with three home matchups in the next four games, beginning on Thursday, Jan. 30 versus 2019 Big West Tournament runner-up Cal State Fullerton (16-18, 10-6).
Four of Cal Poly's final seven Big West games occur on the road, but the Mustangs enjoy a three-game home stand in late February, ending with a Thursday, Feb. 27 meeting with UC Irvine.
Cal Poly closes the regular season at Long Beach State (15-19, 8-8) on Thursday, March 5 and at UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, March 7.
BIG WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT (MARCH)
The 45th edition of the Big West Conference Tournament gets underway at the Honda Center (Anaheim, Calif.) with four quarterfinal matchups on Thursday, March 12.
The two semifinal games are set for Friday, March 13 with the 2020 championship game occurring on Saturday, March 14.
-Provided by Cal Poly