Cascades back with big boys as Canada West shuffles deck

The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams will renew acquaintances with some CIS powerhouses next season.

The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams will be competing under a new schedule format when the Canada West regular season tips off in November.

The Canada West conference’s 2016-17 basketball schedules, released Thursday, no longer feature the Pioneer and Explorer Divisions. That alignment, which had been in effect the past two seasons, saw the Cascades play their entire regular-season schedules against five opponents in the Explorer Division.

The 17 Canada West basketball schools will now play in a single conference, featuring a 20-game regular season. Each team will play four geographical/historical opponents every year, with games against six of the remaining 12 opponents every other year. Over a four-year rotation in the schedule, each team will play every team in the conference at least twice, and will visit every gym in Canada West at least once.

The Cascades’ slate of geographical/historical foes is comprised of a quartet of B.C. teams. UFV will play Trinity Western, Thompson Rivers, UBC Okanagan and UNBC on an annual basis.

The Cascades begin their 2016-17 Canada West campaign in marquee fashion at home, as they welcome the Saskatchewan Huskies to the Envision Athletic Centre on opening weekend (Nov. 4-5). The Huskies women’s team are the defending Canada West and CIS national champions.

The following weekend, UFV takes on its local rival, the Trinity Western Spartans, in a home-and-home series. The Cascades play host on Friday, Nov. 11, and visit the Langley Events Centre on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Other home opponents for UFV include the UNBC Timberwolves (Nov. 25-26), MacEwan Griffins (Jan. 6-7), Thompson Rivers WolfPack (Jan. 27-28) and Victoria Vikes (Feb. 3-4).

The Cascades’ schedule also includes road trips to play the Brandon Bobcats (Dec. 2-3), Calgary Dinos (Jan. 12-13), Alberta Golden Bears/Pandas (Jan. 20-21) and UBC Okanagan Heat (Feb. 10-11).