USU basketball

Utah State guard Brock Miller (22) takes a shot in the quarterfinal game of the Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship in March.

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Let’s try this again.

For the second time this fall the Mountain West Conference has released a schedule for men’s and women’s basketball, calling it an update for the 2020-21 season. The new version, which was announced Tuesday, changed from an 18-game schedule to 20.

The new format emphasizes the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff while significantly reducing travel. It will play out over 11 weeks within the context of state, county and local guidelines.

League play will begin with one two-game series taking place before Christmas for all 11 teams. After a short break, conference action will resume on Dec. 28, and conclude March 1.

Mountain West teams will face each other in a two-game series in the same week with a one-day break between contests. Each institution will have five home and five road series, reducing the regular season travel schedule by four weeks to help mitigate potential virus exposures. This will be the first time every team in the MW will play every opponent twice during the regular season.

“This is a one-year model adopted specifically to address the unique challenges of the current COVID-19 pandemic,” a release from the conference stated.

Utah State will host San Jose State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming and Nevada. The Aggies travel to Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Fresno State and Boise State.

The Spartans come to Logan for games on Dec. 21 and 23 — a Monday and Tuesday — to begin MW play for USU. The Aggies have opened their league schedule against the Spartans more than any other team in the league, facing SJSU in the opening game four times in its eight years in the MW.

Following the Christmas break, USU resumes conference play at Air Force and rings in the New Year in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with games against the Falcons on Thursday, Dec. 31, and Saturday, Jan. 2.

The Aggies remain on the road for their next series, facing New Mexico in Albuquerque on Thursday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 9. The venue with the Lobos could change, as the UNM football team has been playing all of its 2020 games in Las Vegas because of tighter COVID regulations in the state of New Mexico.

USU will then be home for its next two series, hosting San Diego State on Thursday, Jan. 14, and Saturday, Jan. 16, before welcoming Colorado State to the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Wednesday, Jan. 20, and Friday, Jan. 22.

The Aggies have a quick turnaround for their next road series, traveling to UNLV the following Monday to open the two-game set against the Runnin’ Rebels on Jan. 25, and Wednesday, Jan. 27. A second road series follows with contests at Fresno State on Thursday, Feb. 4, and Saturday, Feb. 6.

Wyoming visits USU on Thursday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 13. The Aggies make their final road trip of the year, heading to Boise State on Thursday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 20. USU closes out the regular season at home, welcoming Nevada to town on Thursday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, Feb. 27.

Conference play will determine the seeding for the 2021 MW Men’s Basketball Championship, which will be held March 10-13, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Mountain West national television partners CBS Sports and FOX Sports will now initiate a selection procedure, which will include the shifting of games from their current dates. Additional announcements on television selections will be made soon.

The full USU schedule has not been released. However, the Aggies have announced they are opening the season on Nov. 25, taking on Wichita State in the first round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota The three-game, three-day event concludes on Nov. 27.

Aggie women

While the men still try to work out a few wrinkles with their schedule, the USU women announced their full schedule on Tuesday. It included the revised MW portion.

“We are excited to have our schedule finalized and we’re all looking forward to the start of the season on Nov. 25,” first-year head coach Kayla Ard said in a press release. “We are very grateful to our administration here at Utah State and to the Mountain West for making sure we have a season. Our team has been working hard to make Aggie Nation proud this season.”

Ard’s head coaching debut will come on Wednesday, Nov. 25, as the Aggies play host to Montana. USU will then hit the road for back-to-back contests, starting at Idaho State on Saturday, Nov. 28. Next up is a game at Seattle on Thursday, Dec. 3.

The Aggies return home to the Spectrum on Monday, Dec. 7, to face their only in-state opponent of the season in BYU. The final game before conference play begins will be on Sunday, Dec. 13, when USU hosts UTEP.

In Mountain West play, the first conference series for the Aggies will come on Monday, Dec. 21, and Wednesday, Dec. 23, as they travel to San José State. USU wraps up 2020 and rings in 2021 with a home series against Air Force on Thursday, Dec. 31, and Saturday, Jan. 2.

The Aggies will then face New Mexico at home on Thursday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 9, before heading on the road for back-to-back series. USU plays at San Diego State on Thursday, Jan. 14, and Saturday, Jan. 16, followed by contests at Colorado State on Thursday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 23.

The Aggies will then play four straight games at home, starting with a series against UNLV on Monday, Jan. 25, and Wednesday, Jan. 27, and then contests against Fresno State on Thursday, Feb. 4, and Saturday, Feb. 6. USU travels to Wyoming for games on Thursday, Feb. 11, and Saturday, Feb. 13. The final home series for the Aggies comes against four-time defending MW champs Boise State on Thursday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 20. The regular-season portion of the season concludes for USU at Nevada on Thursday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, Feb. 27.

The 2020-21 Mountain West Women’s Basketball Championships will take place March 7-10, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Shawn Harrison is the sports editor at The Herald Journal. He can be reached at sharrison@hjnews.com or 435-792-7233.

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