We now know that the start of the college basketball season will begin two weeks later than originally scheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Opening day was originally scheduled for November 10th but the NCAA Division I Council on Thursday approved a recommendation from the Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee to push the start of the season back to November 25th with the maximum number of games allowed to be played by each team reducing by four from 31 to 27.
Teams will only need to play a minimum of 13 games against Division I competition to be eligible for selection in the NCAA Tournament.
According to the Oversight Committee, “moving the start date back from November 10 is intended to have contests begin when at least three-quarters of Division I schools will have concluded their fall terms or moved remaining instruction and exams online, creating a more controlled and less populated campus environment that may reduce the risk of COVID-19 that can occur between student-athletes and the broader student body population.” As of right now UW-Green Bay is not one of the schools concluding the semester or going virtual by that date as the university is offering classes online and in-person until the fall semester ends on December 14th.
The first official day of practice will be moved back as well to October 14th instead of the previously planned date of September 29th.
It is now up to the individual conferences to decided how to format their league schedules as far as dates, number of games, ect. The Oversight Committee recommended that each team play a minimum of four non-conference games but some leagues may decide to play a conference-only schedule in an attempt to keep testing protocols consistent amongst all league teams. Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone has mentioned the possibility of pods or bubbles being used for conference play this season in order to ease travel constraints and to keep the teams in a controlled environment as much as possible.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Green Bay’s previously announced non-conference games that were scheduled to be played prior to November 10th. The Phoenix had at least three games scheduled: at Oklahoma State (Nov. 10), Montana State (Nov. 14), and a Horizon League / Summit League Challenge game against a to be announced opponent on either Nov 17th or 21st. Green Bay was scheduled to receive an $87,000 guarantee to play the game at OSU while the game against Montana State was the return game of a home-and-home series that started last season.
Green Bay’s other scheduled games – on the road at Minnesota (Nov. 25th), home against Northern Illinois (Dec. 2) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 5), at Syracuse (Dec. 8), at LSU (Dec. 10), at Jacksonville State (Dec. 13), and home against Mercer (Dec. 13) – may also be affected as conferences decide how many games they will be playing this year and teams have to adjust their schedules accordingly.
With the Horizon League now at 12 teams, a 22-game conference schedule would still allow the Phoenix to play five non-conference games. If the conference decides to stay with 20-conference games as originally planned before the season, teams could play seven non-conference games.
Coaches across the country will have their work cut out for them as they scramble to fill their schedules, while keeping in mind travel and logistical concerns, with less than two months to go until the season officially begins.