MISSOULA — Montana Griz football just began fall camp, but it's never too early to look forward to basketball season.
UM released its men's basketball schedule on Wednesday. It features a challenging nonconference slate. The Grizzlies will take on four Power 5 schools, including three in the Pac-12 and one in the SEC.
Montana opens its season at Stanford on Nov. 6. UM will host MSU-Northern on Nov. 10 before hitting the road again to take on Arkansas on Nov. 16.
The meeting with the Razorbacks will be followed on Nov. 18 by a home game against Montana Tech. The Griz will head west after that to challenge Washington on Nov. 22 in Seattle.
Montana will welcome Texas Southern (Nov. 25) and Coppin State (Nov. 29) to Missoula before hitting the road again to take on Mountain West foe New Mexico on Dec. 1. The Griz will host North Dakota on Dec. 6 for their final nonconference home game.
After that, Montana will get a long break before traveling to take on Oregon in Eugene on Dec. 18. The Griz will wrap up the nonconference schedule at Omaha on Dec. 21.
Montana will open conference play with home games against Northern Arizona (Dec. 28) and Sacramento State (Dec. 30).
Other games of note include both of Montana's matchups with rival Montana State. The Griz host the Bobcats on Feb. 1 and will travel to Bozeman on Feb. 22.
Montana will also battle rival Weber State in Ogden, Utah, on Jan. 25 and in Missoula on Feb. 13. The Grizzlies travel to Cheney, Washington, to take on Eastern Washington on Jan. 9 and host the Eagles on Feb. 6. UM, Weber and Eastern all figure to be popular preseason picks to win the conference.
Montana wraps up its 20-game conference schedule with a pair of home games with Northern Colorado (March 5) and Southern Utah (March 7). The Big Sky Conference tournament runs March 11-14 in Boise, Idaho.
Both Oregon and Washington are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances. The Ducks made it to the Sweet 16 where they fell to eventual national champion Virginia. The Huskies, who won the Pac-12 regular season title, advanced to the second round.
Arkansas missed the tournament last season but played in March Madness three out of the four previous seasons before that. The Razorbacks recently hired Eric Musselman from Nevada to be their head coach. Omaha also went 21-11 a year ago and fell to North Dakota State in the Summit League final to just miss out on the tournament.
North Dakota will provide some nostalgia for Big Sky Conference fans. The Fighting Hawks, who made the NCAA Tournament in 2017, went 12-18 last season in its first year out of the Big Sky Conference and in the Summit League.
Texas Southern also provides an interesting matchup for Montana. The Tigers went 24-14 a season ago but missed the NCAA Tournament after making it four out of the five previous seasons. Texas Southern will also feature a former Grizzly on its roster in Karl Nicholas.
Nicholas, a Pearland, Texas, native, spent his true freshman season with the Grizzlies in 2017-18 where he averaged 9.6 minutes, 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as Montana made its first of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.
Nicholas then left Montana and transferred to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he played right away. However, after 13 games Nicholas was no longer part of the team though no reason was given. He announced over Twitter on July 11 that he was transferring to Texas Southern.
Montana is coming off of a 26-9 season where the Griz advanced to their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. In both meetings the Grizzlies were matched up with Michigan.
Head coach Travis DeCuire is entering his sixth year at the helm with Montana and recently signed a restructured three-year deal with UM. DeCuire is 109-58 overall at Montana including 71-21 in Big Sky play. Montana has had eight matchups with Pac-12 schools in DeCuire's time as head coach, losing in all eight contests. This will be the third time UM will match up with Washington in DeCuire's tenure and second against Stanford and Oregon.
Montana's game at Arkansas will be the first time the two schools have met. Montana is 0-2 against SEC schools under DeCuire.