Virginia announced an exciting new opponent to close out a topsy-turvy non-conference schedule as the Cavaliers will face No. 1 Gonzaga on December 26. The game will be televised by CBS, and air at 4pm.
The Cavaliers had two top-10 matchups — No. 4 Michigan State and No. 7 Villanova —canceled as a result of a program pause that sidelined the team from December 8-19. This is the fourth meeting between the two teams, and first since 2007. Gonzaga holds a 2-1 lead over Virginia in the series, but the Hoos won the last outing on January 3, 2007 when Sean Singletary scored 37 en route to a 108-87 victory at John Paul Jones Arena.
This year’s matchup will take place at Dickie’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, and is by far the biggest challenge of the season for Virginia. After a decisive win over Towson in its first game of the season, Virginia dropped a game to San Francisco, handled St. Francis, and needed overtime to take down Kent State.
Gonzaga has a 3-0 record to start the season and have an extremely dangerous offense. The Zags are No. 2 in offensive efficiency on KenPom, and have scored 102, 90, and 87 points in their first three games. Mark Few’s squad opened the season with an emphatic win over Kansas, then followed it up with victories over Auburn and West Virginia. Gonzaga faces another big test this Saturday as they play No. 3 Iowa.
This is the fourth time under Tony Bennett that the Cavaliers will face the No. 1 team. The Cavaliers are 0-3 in the three previous matchups with No. 1 teams since Bennett took over, losing the last two by a combined four points. Bennett’s first game against a No. 1 team – Duke on the road in his second season with the Hoos – saw the Blue Devils win by 16. Ty Jerome had a breakout game at No. 1 Villanova in a 61-59 loss in 2016-17, and Virginia faced Duke at Cameron in 2018-19 when Zion Williamson helped his team to a 72-70 win.
Virginia will have a game against William and Mary on December 22 to try and shake the rust off of their long pause before facing Gonzaga. That game is set to tip at 2pm on the ACC Network.