In what has become a glorified brand of pick-up basketball because of the pandemic, the University of Washington basketball team has next game.
The Huskies have agreed to open their season against No. 2-ranked Baylor on Sunday in Las Vegas, with tipoff time and broadcast coverage to be determined, a school official said on Thanksgiving night.
These teams opened last season in early November against each other in the ESPN Armed Forces Classic in Anchorage, Alaska, and Mike Hopkins' team pulled a monumental 67-64 upset. The Bears later became the No. 1-ranked team in the polls.
"Having the opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country on the first weekend is going to be a great experience for our guys," UW coach Mike Hopkins said in a statement. "As a team, you always want to play the best teams that you can and this is going to be a good test for us."
However, the Huskies aren't nearly the same team that won in Alaska. They'll have just two starters available from the group that took down the Bears in 6-foot-9 senior forward Hameir Wright and 6-foot junior guard Quade Green.
Those two likely will be paired in the opening lineup with 6-9 USC transfer J'Raan Brooks and 6-3 Wichita State transfer Erik Stevenson, plus returning 6-6 junior wing Jamal Bey.
The Huskies originally had scheduled a four-team event at home from Wednesday through Saturday that would have involved Portland State, San Diego and Cal State Fullerton, but the other teams each came down with COVID-19 concerns and forced the cancellation of all games.
Baylor still has its own pandemic issues. It was set to open Wednesday night against Arizona State and then play No. 3 Villanova or Boston College on Thanksgiving day in the Empire Classic in Connecticut.
Those plans were scrapped when Bears coach Scott Drew tested positive for the virus though he was asymptomatic. He remains in self-isolation.
"The way this year is going you just have to be ready for anything and that's what we've been telling our guys from day one," the UW's Hopkins said. "This is a great opportunity and we're going to be ready for it."
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