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Big Sky announces 16-game basketball conference slate
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BIG SKY CONFERENCE BASKETBALL

Big Sky announces 16-game basketball conference slate

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The Big Sky Conference announced the men's and women's hoops seasons will be dropped from 20 games to 16 in a press release Friday afternoon.

It will be a one-year adjustment as the conference looks to find ways to create monetary savings for schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Just two weeks ago the conference announced broader changes to the rest of the sports calendar -- except for football, which is still in the works.

Instead of playing each Big Sky opponent twice, Northern Arizona men's and women's basketball will face six schools twice and the other four once. According to the Big Sky, those teams will be determined by geographic location and other criteria that were not stated in the release.

"This one-year adjustment to our conference basketball schedules is an appropriate measure that delivers significant cost savings to our member institutions while providing our basketball programs with more flexibility in their nonconference scheduling," Big Sky Commissioner Tom Wistrcill said in the release. "I applaud our schools' leaders for striking the right balance between providing opportunities for our student-athletes to compete while recognizing the need to make changes for the upcoming year."

The conference said the schedules will be released at a later date but the seasons will still begin around New Year's Eve or New Year's Day like it has in recent memory.

The status of the nonconference slate is currently unclear.

It is unclear which six teams the Northern Arizona programs will face twice, but Weber State, Southern Utah and Northern Colorado are three of the closest Big Sky schools to Flagstaff -- making the trio a strong possibility. 

The Big Sky originally planned for the season to be started in early December to alleviate the four games in five days that schools had to play during the conference slate.

The Big Sky tournament will still take place and feature all 11 teams in Boise, Idaho.

Lance Hartzler can be reached at 556-2251 or at lhartzler@azdailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @lance_hartz.

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