Utah men’s basketball finalizes what Larry Krystkowiak calls a ‘grueling’ non-conference schedule

Utes open regular season at home on Nov. 8 against Maine

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak celebrates after the team's NCAA college basketball game against Stanford in Salt Lake City. Krystkowiak was selected as the AP Pac-12 conference coach of the year on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Utah men’s basketball team will host Maine on Nov. 8, launching what coach Larry Krystkowiak labeled a “grueling” nonconference schedule in 2018–19, the school announced Thursday.

The Utes' marquee games already had been publicized, including home games vs. Tulsa and Nevada, road games with Minnesota and Kentucky and a meeting with BYU at Vivint Smart Home Arena in the Beehive Classic.

“I believe our program is at a place where we are up for the challenge and we are very motivated to play a grueling nonconference schedule,” Krystkowiak said in a news release.

The Pac-12 schedule, yet to be announced, will begin Jan. 2.

The biggest takeaways from Thursday's news were the season-opening opponent and date and the pairings of the Wooden Legacy, scheduled Nov. 22-25 at Fullerton, Calif. The Utes will open the eight-team tournament against Hawaii, then face Grand Canyon or Seton Hall in the second round. Potential opponents in the final round include Fresno State, La Salle, Miami and Northwestern.

The other notable development is the absence of Missouri, which visited the Huntsman Center last November to begin a scheduled home-and-home series. The return game will pushed back to the 2019–20 season, Ute assistant coach Andy Hill told ESPN 700, citing “logistical things.”

Utah's schedule is balanced, in terms of having its high-profile opponents interspersed from Nov. 12 (at Minnesota) to Dec. 29 (Nevada). In addition to Maine, Tulsa and Nevada, Utah's home opponents include Mississippi Valley State, Florida A&M and Northern Arizona.

The Utes, coming off a 23–12 season that included an 11–7 record in the Pac−12, will meet College Idaho in an exhibition game on Nov. 1.