MISSOULA — The Montana and Montana State men’s basketball teams will play eight games against Summit League competition over the next four seasons, according to news releases.
The four-year series between the two conferences will begin in the 2018-19 season and extend through 2021-22. Each team will play one home and one road game per season against a school from the other conference.
“Men’s basketball scheduling is a challenge, particularly in our geographic region,” Montana State athletic director Leon Costello said in a news release. He and MSU head coach Brian Fish were among those initiating the process. “This series guarantees a home game against a quality Division I opponent each season, and it builds familiarity between two highly competitive conferences. This series is a great way to overcome those scheduling challenges and provides benefits to each team."
The Griz and Bobcats are joined by Big Sky teams Eastern Washington and Idaho. The Summit League teams are North Dakota, North Dakota State, Omaha and South Dakota State. North Dakota is in its final year in the Big Sky and will join the Summit League in 2018-19.
Montana has played at least one Summit League team during the regular season each year since 2012-13. The Griz went 4-4 in those games, including a 69-64 win over Oral Roberts this season as part of the Legends Classic subregional in Malibu, California.
"Any way I can get home games is a good fit for Montana right now," Griz head coach Travis DeCuire told 406mtsports.com. "Scheduling has been difficult. We can’t get anyone to come. So when the opportunity was presented to us, it wasn’t that we necessarily wanted to go to the Dakotas; we don’t recruit there. ... If we can get ahead of our game — this is two less games that I have to worry about scheduling in a year at least for the next four years — I’m excited about that.
"The Summit is a good league, and we've been playing those teams. ... They’re one of the few conferences regionally that are similar to us. It makes sense. It’s expensive travel, though, so there’s always a negative with the positive. We look forward to it. ... Maybe you get a little rivalry going with some of them and it could lead to something down the road."
The Griz will play at South Dakota State and host North Dakota State in 2018-19. In 2019-20, they will travel to Omaha and host North Dakota. They will play at North Dakota State and host South Dakota State in 2020-21. They close the series in 2021-22 at North Dakota and by hosting Omaha.
The Bobcats travel to Omaha and host North Dakota in 2018-19. They go to North Dakota State and host South Dakota State in 2019-20. In 2020-21, they travel to North Dakota and host Omaha. They go to South Dakota State and host North Dakota State in 2021-22.
The rest of the schedule is as follows:
2018-19 – Eastern Washington at North Dakota State, Idaho at North Dakota, Omaha at Idaho, South Dakota State at Eastern Washington.
2019-20 – Eastern Washington at North Dakota, Idaho at South Dakota State, North Dakota State at Idaho, Omaha at Eastern Washington.
2020-21 – Eastern Washington at South Dakota State, Idaho at Omaha, North Dakota at Idaho, North Dakota State at Eastern Washington.
2021-22 – Eastern Washington at Omaha, Idaho at North Dakota State, North Dakota at Eastern Washington, South Dakota State at Idaho.