Like everyone else, Air Force men's basketball coach Dave Pilipovich didn't find out which two conference opponents he would partially dodge this coming season until seeing the schedule on Friday afternoon.
He was pleasantly surprised to learn defending conference champion New Mexico was one of them.
"I'd have been happier if it had said zero," Pilipovich said. "I'd rather not play them any time, but one is better than two."
Under the Mountain West's new format with 11 teams, each school has two opponents that it will play just once. Air Force learned Friday that it would play at New Mexico and host Utah State, while it will face the conference's other eight teams both home and away.
Logistically, it seemed the computer-generated schedule picked an odd two teams to partially skip. Air Force is New Mexico's shortest trip in the league and Utah State is among the four closest opponents for Air Force.
Pilipovich said teams were asked to list two rivalries they'd like to protect - he opted for Front Range foes Colorado State and Wyoming - and the computers took it from there.
That was the part of the schedule Air Force couldn't control. The nonconference was up to them, and it's clearly a schedule built for a team that knew it was about to have some substantial losses on the court.
Unlike last year, when Wichita State and Florida provided early tests (and losses) as the Falcons rode five seniors to an 18-14 record, Air Force is taking a far more low-key approach this season. Less-than A-list programs like Jackson State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, South Dakota and UC Riverside are among the teams that will visit Clune Arena as the Falcons have an eight-game stretch of home games in November and December.
The top two nonconference foes - Richmond (Nov. 27) and Colorado (Nov. 30) - both visit the Falcons as part of multiyear deals.
"I like it," Pilipovich said. "Hopefully it will be a good year for us. Hopefully it will be a good growing year for us to learn and get better each game."
The Air Force women also released their schedule on Friday, and it includes a difficult opener at North Carolina on Nov. 8.
Air Force Academy Men’s Basketball Schedule
Day Date Opponent Site Time
Sun. Nov. 3 Regis University (Exh.) USAFA 2 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 8 Air Force vs. Army (ESPNU) Lexington, VA 11 a.m.
Citadel vs. VMI Lexington, VA TBA
Sat. Nov. 9 Third-Place Game Lexington, VA TBA
Championship Game Lexington, VA TBA
Thurs. Nov. 14 Jackson State USAFA TBA
Sun. Nov. 17 Arkansas-Pine Bluff USAFA TBA
Wed. Nov. 20 Colorado Christian USAFA TBA
Wed. Nov. 27 Richmond USAFA TBA
Sat. Nov. 30 Colorado USAFA TBA
Thurs. Dec. 5 South Dakota USAFA TBA
Mon. Dec. 9 Western State USAFA TBA
Sat. Dec. 14 UC Riverside USAFA TBA
Sat. Dec. 21 UC Davis Davis, CA TBA
Wed. Jan. 1 Utah State* USAFA TBA
Sat. Jan. 4 UNLV* Las Vegas, NV TBA
Wed. Jan. 8 Fresno State* Fresno, CA TBA
Sun. Jan. 12 San Diego State* (ESPN3) USAFA TBA
Wed. Jan. 15 San Jose State* USAFA TBA
Sat. Jan. 18 Colorado State* Fort Collins, CO TBA
Wed. Jan. 22 Wyoming* USAFA TBA
Wed. Jan. 29 Boise State* Boise, ID TBA
Sat. Feb. 1 Nevada* Reno, NV TBA
Wed. Feb. 5 Fresno State* USAFA TBA
Sat. Feb. 8 Colorado State* USAFA TBA
Wed. Feb. 12 San Jose State* San Jose, CA TBA
Sat. Feb. 15 San Diego State* (CBSSN) San Diego, CA TBA
Sat. Feb. 22 Nevada* USAFA TBA
Wed. Feb. 26 Wyoming* Laramie, WY TBA
Sat. Mar. 1 UNLV* (ESPN3) USAFA TBA
Wed. Mar. 5 New Mexico* Albuquerque, NM TBA
Sat. Mar. 8 Boise State* (ESPN3) USAFA TBA
Wed.-Sat. Mar. 12-15 MW Championships Las Vegas, NV TBA
* Mountain West Opponent