NCAA Sets Return for Basketball: Nov. 25
John. E. Hoover
Basketball is back.
At least, college basketball has devised a plan to return to action — games can begin Nov. 25, according to rules set forth Wednesday by the NCAA Division I Council.
Teams can start full practice sessions on Oct. 14 (no more than 20 hours per week), with 30 practices allowed (in a 42-day window) before the start of the season. There will be no exhibition games or scrimmages, teams can play no more than 27 regular-season games (with a 13-game minimum to qualify for NCAA Tournament play), and the council even recommends a minimum of four non-conference games. Women can play 23 games, and there are exceptions for multiple team events, such as tournaments.
“We wanted to build consensus and consider all perspectives,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA Vice President for basketball, told Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde. “We had the benefit of time, watching other sports starting and learning from them. It’s not perfect, and we weren’t even shooting for perfection. But I do hope we’ve achieved a responsible and unified plan to start college basketball.”
As of this week, Oklahoma has only three games set: On Dec. 2, the Sooners host Florida. On Dec. 12, OU plays Arkansas in Tulsa. A Dec. 19 game with Washington is still on the schedule in Las Vegas as the Pac-12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge, but the Pac-12 has postponed all sports in 2020 — a decision that could change at any moment. Lon Kruger’s OU team is also down to play Dec. 22-25 in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic, but no details have been set. The Big 12 basketball schedule also has not been announced yet.
Gavitt said the Thanksgiving weekend start date will minimize the student-body population on campuses across the country. He said last week that 76 percent of all Division I schools will have either finished the fall semester or released the general student-body for in-person instruction.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
Starting Sept. 21, teams can engage in strength and fitness workouts as well as skills instruction for up to 12 hours per week before practice begins.
As of now, the NCAA expects the NCAA Tournament to be played as usual, with a 68-team field beginning in March.
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