This college basketball season will be unlike any other. Wait a second, where have I heard that before? Oh yea that’s right, with every single thing that has happened in this year that will never end. The NCAA Division 1 Council met on Wednesday and set the official start date of the 2020-2021-college basketball season as Nov. 25 or the day before Thanksgiving.
No exhibition games or scrimmages will be allowed to take place before that date. The council also changed the maximum and minimum number of games required to be considered for NCCA championship selection. The maximum number of games is now 24 or 25 games compared to 28 or 29 in previous years. The minimum number of games was reduced by half to 13 games. It also was noted that there was a recommendation by both the men’s and women’s committees to play a minimum of four nonconference games as well.
The start date was only pushed back by two weeks as the original date was Nov. 10. But in all of this news is the fact that a team only has to play 12 games to become eligible for the 68-team tournament. So then begs the question how do you determine if a team that has played 12 games and a team that has played 25 makes the tournament?
Early season tournaments are a staple of college basketball. The Maui Invitational, Battle 4 Atlantis, Champions Classic and countless other tournaments bring together some of the top teams in the country to see who has the talent early in the season. A lot of those tournaments are being moved around now due to travel restrictions and trying to keep everyone as safe as possible. It is even possible that many tournaments will take place in the same arenas similar to the NBA, WNBA and NHL bubbles. Those details are still being ironed out, but it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The Pac 12 and Ivy League have already said that they are not letting any sports to resume until Jan. 1 so that means those teams will be some of the ones with minimal games on their resume when tournament time comes around. Some leagues may go to a conference only schedule and some may play meaningful non-conference games that bolster their resume. All of these things that come in to play don’t have many answers at this time, though it is expected as the days go by the picture will become much clearer.
Right now it doesn’t seem that the end of the season will be fair to each team. Sure you should have conference tournaments to determine the automatic bids for each league, but then you have the other at large bids that will determine the rest of the field. Those bids go by record and other rankings including NET, but how is any of this going to make sense of a team that has played half of the games that another has? I don’t see how it can be.
The NCAA balked at the idea that ACC coaches put together and presented two weeks ago to allow every division 1 team to participate in what essentially would be a 346-team tournament. It got mixed reviews on social media and in the sports media as well. Personally I think it is a fantastic idea. Yea I get that people say ‘oh lets just give everyone a trophy’ and other participation jokes, but this is 2020 and nothing is like it should be. It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing, just let every team in the country battle it out for one winner.
Lets face it, a team that should get into the tournament this year will not be based off of lack of games, or on the flip side, too many games where they lost more than others. Maybe every team gets to the 25 game threshold or somewhere close, but it isn’t a given this day in time.
Either way I am just glad that we have another sport that has put in the work to allow their student athletes, coaches and staff to participate in the game they love.
Until next time.