Full men’s and women’s hoops schedules released

By Marco Villano, James Boehly

The 2008-09 schedule has been finalized for the Runnin’ Utes and it features the toughest non-conference home game schedule since the early 1970s.

The Utes tip off their first of four difficult home games Dec. 3 against Oregon, a team that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season. The next three notable games at the Huntsman Center before the Utes kick off their conference schedule are California (Dec. 10), Gonzaga (Dec. 31) and LSU (Jan. 6).

“I think fans are excited about basketball this season,” Forward Morgan Grimm said. “We have a great home schedule this year.”

Away from home, the U shouldn’t have much of a problem picking up some W’s before a difficult conference schedule. Their toughest non-conference road game will be against Oklahoma and forward sensation Blake Griffin, which hasn’t been set up to be televised yet, but should be a game to look for. The in-state non-conference rivalry game against Utah State will be played Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.

“Our schedule is very difficult, but we’re trying to establish a program here, I think you have to do that by playing good teams,” Boylen said. “We’re trying to walk that fine line between maybe not-too-difficult-a-schedule, but good enough to get us in (NCAA tournament).”

The U’s conference games will be played on Wednesdays and Saturdays this season with the exception of two big games: one at home against BYU on Tuesday, Jan. 27 and on the road against New Mexico on Tuesday, March 3. They close out their schedule with what could potentially be four huge games beginning with UNLV, then followed by BYU, New Mexico and TCU. Fans will have plenty of chances to watch the Runnin’ Utes in action this season as 21 games will be televised on either CBS, VERSUS or the Mtn. Their first notably televised game is against Oregon. Every conference game will be televised on the Mtn. beginning with a road game against San Diego State Jan. 10 on VERSUS. The Utes road game against BYU on Feb. 28 will be televised on CBS.

Women also release full schedule

The schedule for the Utah women’s basketball season has been finalized and there should be a fair amount of tough competition for the defending regular season Mountain West Conference champs.

The first major challenge for the Utes will be at home against Louisville on Nov. 25. Last season, the Cardinals reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.

Three day later, the Utes will go on the road to face Marquette, Virginia and Gonzaga in the Marquette Tournament. All three teams regularly compete against some of the best teams in Division-1 basketball and will be a tough test for the Utes.

In conference play, Colorado State will be one of the more interesting matchups for Utah. Last year, the Rams upset the Utes in the first round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament and broke their 22-game winning streak. The Utes will look to avenge last season’s loss on Jan. 17 when the teams will first meet. The other main matchup in the conference will be against BYU on Jan. 28. The Utes currently hold a two-game winning streak against their archrivals and will be looking to extend that streak even further.

With a perfect regular season record in the Mountain West Conference last season, every team in the conference will be looking to spoil the Utes’ bid for a second MWC Title.

In addition to the release of the full schedule, the Mountain West Conference has also released the broadcast schedule for the upcoming season. The Utes have a total of nine televised games throughout the season and will have three of those games televised on the CBS College Sports Network, which is more than any other team in the Mountain West Conference.

“The television schedule represents the respect our program has earned,” head coach Elaine Elliott said. “It gives us great exposure which continues to be of great importance on the national scene.”

With a schedule in place, the Utes will now look to build on the success of last season by attempting to repeat as Mountain West Conference Champions and to add a MWC tournament title.

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