The University of Utah men’s basketball team will open its season against a new in-state rival.
The Utes are finalizing a deal to face first-year Division I program Dixie State on Nov. 25 at the Huntsman Center, multiple sources told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday afternoon.
Utah already has scheduled nonconference games against Idaho State (Dec. 8), at BYU (Dec. 12) and vs. Utah Valley (Dec. 15). The Utes will pay the Bengals $45,000 and the Wolverines $40,000 in one-off guarantees for their respective trips to the Huntsman Center. The guarantee figure going to Dixie State was not immediately known.
Dixie State is coached by Salt Lake City native Jon Judkins, who has led the Trailblazers since 2005-06, at which time they were a junior college program. Judkins and Dixie State spent 14 years at the Division II level, during which time they went to the NCAA Tournament eight times, including a pair of regional finals.
The Utes' nonconference schedule was thrown into flux on Oct. 30 when they opted to exit the South Dakota-based Crossover Classic, which has since had more teams exit thanks to COVID-19 concerns growing.
With four nonconference games on the slate and 24 total thanks to a 20-game Pac-12 schedule, the Utes can still add up to three more games. Below are the scheduling options at their disposal.
• 24 regular-season games and up to three games in one multi-team event (MTE).
• 25 regular-season games and up to two games in one MTE.
• 25 regular-season games without playing in a MTE.
At this late date, with Utah having 24 regular-season games scheduled, the path of least resistance would be to figure out one more nonconference games to get to 25, and not play an MTE. On the flip side, MTEs are constantly evolving, both at neutral sites and on campuses, so that option should not be ruled out yet.