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Report: Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball to host Belmont

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-adds-belmont-bruins-2023-24-non-conference-schedule MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR / USA TODAY NETWORK

Arizona men’s basketball has loaded up on power conference opponents for the 2023-24 non-conference schedule in what is sure to be excellent training for next year’s NCAA Tournament.

Arizona never got to face a high-major conference this March Madness, of course, as its season ended unceremoniously to No. 15 seed Princeton.

It makes sense then that Tommy Lloyd and his staff would like to prepare against another early round humiliation by scheduling against quality mid-major foes, which is just what Arizona did by adding Belmont to its schedule.

Arizona will host the Bruins in McKale Center on Nov. 17, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports / FanDuel.

Belmont, which has won 20 or more games in 17 of the last 18 seasons, is the type of opponent Arizona could face in the opening weekend of next year’s Big Dance.

The Bruins fell short of the NCAA Tournament in their first season in the Missouri Valley Conference, going 21-11.

Belmont is led by fourth-year head coach Casey Alexander, who took over in 2019 from longtime coach Rick Byrd.

Belmont made the NIT in 2022 and reached its last NCAA Tournament in 2019. Belmont faced Arizona in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, a game the Wildcats won 81-64. That was the only meeting between the two programs.

Next year could be a down season for Belmont, which lost two key post players to the transfer portal. Belmont did add Vanderbilt transfer Malik Dia, a former four-star recruit.

Arizona so far has eight non-conference games scheduled for the upcoming season, highlighted by contests against Duke, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue and Alabama. Last year the Wildcats played 11 non-conference games, so the program has at least a few more to fill.

2023-24 Arizona MBB schedule (so far)

Nov. 6 vs. Morgan State

Nov. 10 at Duke

Nov. 13/14 at Southern

No. 17 vs. Belmont

Nov. 23 vs. Michigan State (Palm Springs)

Dec. 9 vs. Wisconsin

Dec. 16 vs. Purdue (Indianapolis)

Dec. 20 vs. Alabama (Phoenix)