Following up on their surprising second-place finish in the NCAA basketball tournament in March, the Utah basketball team will play one of its most formidable schedules in history for the 1998-99 season.

The Ute slate isn't finalized, but their tentative schedule shows them playing in the Maui Classic Nov. 23-25, at Texas Dec. 12, at home against Wake Forest on Dec. 29 and against Rhode Island in the Great Eight Classic in Chicago on Dec. 2.The Great Eight announced its field Thursday with Kentucky, Kan-sas, Duke, Connecticut, Michigan State and Washington joining Utah and Rhode Island.

The idea behind the Great Eight is to bring together the Final Eight teams from the previous spring in a two-day classic with each team playing one game. Due to prior commitments, North Carolina, Arizona and Stanford declined invitations and were replaced by Kansas, Michigan State and Washington. Last year, the Utes defeated Providence in the Great Eight.

After a home opener against an opponent to be determined in mid-November, the Utes will go on the road for more than a month with games at Utah State, at the Maui Classic, at the Great Eight, at Long Beach State, at Weber State and at Texas. The Utes will also play home exhibition games Nov. 6 and Nov. 9.

The Utes will play just 14 WAC games this year and will be in the division with San Diego State, Hawaii, San Jose State and Fresno State in addition to BYU, UTEP and New Mexico. Utah will play those WAC teams home and home with the WAC tournament to follow March 2-6.