ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University unveiled the second editions of its men’s and women’s basketball schedules on Oct. 26, giving the school’s long-awaited — and postponed — arrival to Division I a time and place at long last.
Burns Arena will open its doors for the first time this season on Nov. 25 to the women and Nov. 28 to the men, but it won’t host its first DI action until Dec. 1 when the women host Brigham Young University. The men take on Weber State four days later to open their DI slate.
The Blazers’ introduction to the Western Athletic Conference takes place on Jan. 8, with the men hosting two-time WAC defending champion New Mexico State and the women traveling to Las Cruces to take on the Aggies on their turf. Both teams play a 16-game conference schedule that runs until Feb. 27.
In 2019, both teams played their first games on Nov. 8. But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the beginning of nonconference play had to be pushed back.
“I’m just glad we’re playing, that’s the biggest thing to me,” DSU men’s head coach Jon Judkins said. “We are excited to be part of the WAC, we’re excited that we get a chance to play, and hopefully we can keep everybody healthy and have a good year.”
While the teams succeeded in DII, the early expectations from coaches and media show that the Blazers will have an adjustment period to the new competition level. The women were ranked eighth out of nine in the polls for both groups, and the men were ranked eighth by the coaches and seventh by the media.
The headliner nonconference game is a tilt in Spokane, Washington, where the men will take on NCAA powerhouse Gonzaga. The men play four in-state rivals, while the women take on three, both including new conference rival Utah Valley. They each travel to Cedar City to take on Southern Utah University Dec. 17 and Dec. 21, respectively.
All told, it adds 26 home events to Burns Arena, a chance to prove collegiate athletics is feasible during this pandemic and a place for DSU to begin its DI life at last.
Important dates — Women’s basketball
Nov. 25 – First home game vs. Life Pacific
Dec. 1 – vs. Brigham Young
Dec. 21 – at Southern Utah
Jan. 8 – First WAC game at New Mexico State
Jan. 15 – First WAC home game vs. UT Rio Grande Valley
Feb. 27 – Final regular-season home game and senior night vs. Chicago State
Important dates — Men’s basketball
Nov. 28 – First home game vs. Saint Katherine
Dec. 5 – vs. Weber State
Dec. 17 – at Southern Utah
Dec. 29 – at Gonzaga
Jan. 8 – First WAC game vs. New Mexico State
March 2 – Final regular-season home game and senior night vs. Park
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