SAN LUIS OBISPO – Featuring 12 home games, 10 matchups versus programs that won 20-plus games a season ago, three first-time opponents and a November visit to nationally ranked Arizona, the Cal Poly men's basketball program released its 2018-19 regular season schedule on Tuesday morning.
Also highlighted by road matchups at Fresno State, California, Washington State, CSU Bakersfield and Siena, participation in Portland's three-game Thanksgiving tournament and meetings against defending Pac-12 Conference champion Arizona and defending MEAC champion Bethune-Cookman, the 30-game schedule also features opponents from 12 different conferences.
"Our three Pac-12 Conference games this season with give our program national television exposure on Pac-12 Networks and our non-conference home schedule will allow us to compete against out-of-region teams that we faced on the road last year," 10th-year Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero said. "Our seven returning letterwinners have the talent and leadership to help us make some noise in the Big West Conference this year."
Cal Poly fans will receive their first look at the 2018-19 Mustangs when the program hosts its annual Green versus Gold intrasquad game on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center.
Cal Poly's 12-game home schedule inside Mott Athletics Center and the program's 25th season of Division I action gets underway on Wednesday, Nov. 7 versus NAIA Menlo College (20-11, 6-8 GSAC last year). All of Cal Poly's home games will tip at 7 p.m.
The Mustangs then open a seven-game road trip with a nationally televised, Pac-12 Networks matchup at Arizona (27-8, 14-4 Pac-12) on Sunday, Nov. 11. Defending Pac-12 regular season and tournament champion Arizona was a No. 4 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament before dropping its first round matchup to 13th-seeded Buffalo (89-68). Cal Poly last visited the Wildcats on Nov. 8, 2013, dropping a 73-62, season-opening decision to then-No. 5 Arizona.
The road trip continues at Sacramento State (7-25, 4-14 Big Sky) on Friday, Nov. 16 and Washington State (12-19, 4-14 Pac-12) on Monday, Nov. 19. Cal Poly's date at Washington State – alma mater of Mustang assistant coach Mitch Reaves – marks the program's first and only meeting against the Cougars since Feb. 10, 1976.
During Portland's Nov. 21, 23-24 Thanksgiving tournament, the Mustangs will face first-time opponent Texas State (15-18, 7-11 Sun Belt) on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and the host Pilots (10-22, 4-14 West Coast) on Friday, Nov. 23. Cal Poly concludes the round-robin tournament versus another first-time opponent in USC Upstate (7-25, 2-12 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday, Nov. 24.
"I look forward to the tournament in Portland because it will challenge our team physically and mentally with three games in four days," Callero said.
After concluding the seven-game road swing with a Saturday, Dec. 1 trip to Fresno State (21-11, 11-7 Mountain West) – now under the direction of former Cal Poly assistant coach Justin Hutson (2005-06) – the Mustangs return to Mott Athletics Center to host Bethune-Cookman (18-14, 12-4 MEAC) on Saturday, Dec. 8. Bethune-Cookman split the 2018 MEAC regular season championship alongside Hampton and Savannah State.
Cal Poly's return to national television occurs on Saturday, Dec. 15 with a visit to California (8-24, 2-16 Pac-12) – a game that marks the program's fourth matchup inside Haas Pavilion in the last five years – before the Mustangs head to Cal State Bakersfield (12-18, 5-9 WAC) for a Tuesday, Dec. 18 meeting.
Cal Poly hosts 2018 Sun Belt Conference Tournament runner-up UTA (21-13, 10-8) on Friday, Dec. 21 before closing the 2018 calendar year with a Saturday, Dec. 29 visit to first-time opponent Siena (8-24, 4-14) in Albany, N.Y.
"Our game at Siena allows us to strengthen our recruiting relationships on the East Coast and improve our notoriety in New York near Donovan Fields' home base," said Callero of Cal Poly's senior point guard, a native of Newburgh, N.Y.
The Mustangs open 2019 and conclude their 14-game non-conference run at home versus Division II Holy Names on Friday, Jan. 4.
Cal Poly's 23rd season of Big West Conference action begins at UC Santa Barbara (23-9, 11-5) on Wednesday, Jan. 9 with the Mustangs seeking their first victory inside The Thunderdome in five years.
Three nights later, the Mustangs host CSUN (6-24, 3-13) in their Big West home opener before visiting defending Big West regular season champion UC Davis (22-11, 12-4) on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Cal Poly's initial Big West home stand comes against UC Riverside (9-22, 4-12) on Wednesday, Jan. 23 and defending Big West Tournament champion Cal State Fullerton (20-12, 10-6) on Saturday, Jan. 26. After topping UC Irvine 71-55 in last year's title game to become the eighth different Big West Tournament champion in the last eight years, Cal State Fullerton fell in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament to second-seeded Purdue, 74-48.
Four of Cal Poly's ensuing six Big West matchups come on the road, a stretch that wraps at Hawai'i (17-13, 8-8) on Thursday, Feb. 14 and at UC Irvine (18-17, 11-5) on Thursday, Feb. 21.
The Mustangs, however, close the regular season with three home dates during the final five games, wrapping up the regular season inside Mott Athletics Center against UC Irvine (Thursday, March 7) and UC Santa Barbara (Saturday, March 9).
The 44th edition of the Big West Conference Tournament gets underway at the Honda Center (Anaheim, Calif.) with four quarterfinal matchups on Thursday, March 14.
The two semifinal games are set for Friday, March 15 on ESPNU and ESPN3 with the 2019 championship game occurring on Saturday, March 16 on ESPN2.
The NCAA Tournament begins March 19-20 with First Four action in Dayton, Ohio. NCAA Tournament first round play occurs March 21-22, second round games take place March 23-24 and the Sweet Sixteen matchups are set for March 28-29. The four Elite Eight games are scheduled for March 30-31 with the Final Four in Minneapolis set for April 6 and 8.
Aside from Cal Poly's nationally televised Pac-12 Networks games at Arizona (Sunday, Nov. 11), Washington State (Monday, Nov. 19) and California (Saturday, Dec. 15), all remaining television broadcasts will be announced once dates have been confirmed.
During the past five years, Cal Poly has made 55 television appearances.