Is the Big East Heading Toward a Bubble?

In this weekend's Hot Clicks: The Big East is discussing playing its season in a bubble, plus a possible need for reforming the NFL's COVID-19 policy and more.
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Big East Bubble

For months, college basketball bubbles have been discussed as possibilities for the 2020–21 season and/or the 2021 NCAA tournament. In the Big East, it appears those discussions are real.

“There’s no doubt: The bubble is the answer,” said Villanova coach Jay Wright. “If you want to get where you are sure that you’re going to get all your games in, the bubble’s the answer [and] the medical experts will agree to that. The challenge for us is ... our players and students. They’re not employees so to force someone to go into a bubble is shaky. And, if you do it for the men you have to do it for the women, which doubles the cost for everybody ... [and] we don’t think the schools, really have the finances to do that.”

The Big East is exploring bubble options, according to NJ.com, and the Mohegan Sun Area in Uncasville, Conn., is among locations being considered to host games in January. Villanova is one of three Big East teams who’ve paused all basketball activities recently after a player tested positive for COVID-19.

The college basketball season is scheduled to begin two weeks from Wednesday with more than 50 games.

NFL COVID Reform?

The Detroit Lions placed Matthew Stafford on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday (for the second time this season) after Stafford had contact with an individual who tested positive. Stafford, and his entire family, tested negative on Thursday but has remained in isolation ahead of the Lions’ game in Minnesota on Sunday.

That isolation led to a horrifying situation for the Stafford family on Friday:

G5 or 2-Loss Team

In the final minutes of Virginia Tech’s win over Ohio State in Week 2 of the 2014 college football season, the internet erupted with proclamations of Ohio State’s elimination from the first-ever College Football Playoff picture. Thirteen weeks later, Ohio State earned the fourth seed and the rest is history.

At the time of Ohio State’s loss, it appeared highly possible a one-loss team, one that lost to what was believed to be (and proved to be) a mediocre Virginia Tech team, would miss the playoff. Three one-loss teams—Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State—made the playoff in 2014, the first of four straight years with at least three one-loss playoff teams.

In the first four years of the playoff, only three of 16 teams were undefeated. And even with a parade of undefeated playoff teams since 2018, through the first six years of the four-team field, only nine of 24 teams have been undefeated. No two-loss team has made the playoff, though four have finished No. 5: Penn State in 2016, Ohio State in 2017, Georgia in 2018 and Georgia in 2019. And, obviously, no Group of Five team has ever appeared in the College Football Playoff, nor has any Group of Five team come close.

Will that change in the midst of a global pandemic that’s demolishing college football norms each week?

With Wisconsin’s season in jeopardy, projected two-loss teams littering the high levels of college football, and the Pac-12 already battling cancellations, a two-loss playoff team is possible, if not probable. If that doesn’t happen, it most likely means Wisconsin fought through COVID issues, Oregon or USC ran the table, Oklahoma State is a 10–1 Big 12 champion, or there’s a shake-up in the ACC or SEC.

It also could mean BYU (or Cincinnati) could deliver the Group of Five’s first-ever bid.

To be clear, we’re miles away from a G5 bid. Even after BYU’s demolition of Boise State on Friday night, the path is not clear for the Cougars or Cincinnati, neither of whom will finish the season with a top-tier win. However, after Friday night, it’s time to ask the question: Is there a simple, realistic scenario in which BYU lands in the playoff? We’ll break it down on Monday’s episode of the High Motor podcast.

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