The NCAA issues plan for the college basketball season
The college basketball season can begin Nov. 25, according the NCAA, and be capped at no more than 27 regular season games.
Practice can begin Oct. 14.
As college football has been challenged enormously to carry on its season amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA's centralized basketball leadership — different from the splintered nature of Power 5 football, where the conferences operate with relative autonomy — has been crafting its plan to at the very least assure the NCAA Tournament will return this season after last year's was canceled.
The plan presented Wednesday tabs Wednesday, Nov. 25, as the start of the season, a date that coincides with Thanksgiving and the point in the calendar when most college campuses will clear out. Many are going online at that point, Purdue included, and that window will lead into the holidays, and create a de-facto bubble-type environment on campuses, it's hoped.
It will now be up to the conferences to determine how to proceed with their blends of non-conference play and the duration of their conference seasons.
While the Big Ten has and may continue to consider a full 26-game conference schedule the likeliest scenario may be an abridged non-conference slate and a normal 20-game conference schedule. That structure would involve non-conference play, as coaches would strongly support such games in part due to their importance for postseason considerations, exposure and such, and the NCAA would prefer leagues to not freeze out other conferences. Its recommendation is to play at least four non-conference games. In football, coming up with uniform COVID-19 standards has been a challenge, however, but the availability of rapid-response testing could smooth that issue out should high-major programs proceed with games against mid- or low-major programs with limited resources.
Bubble formats at various locations have reportedly been conceived and considered as hubs for bulk non-conference play and it remains to be seen whether travel as normal will occur due to the changing nature of COVID-19 hotspots and the differences between various regions' realities and policies toward containing the virus.
For Purdue it could bring into question its trip to Florida for the Cancun Challenge, which is scheduled to be in progress on Nov. 25. Pairings have yet to be announced for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and the Gavitt Games between the Big Ten and Big East, and those events may now come into focus for those conferences and their television stakeholders. Purdue's Dec. 13 trip to Brooklyn to meet West Virginia could come into question.
The schedule is going to very much be pieced together starting now, but the Nov. 25 cutoff chops the following games from Purdue's original 2020-2021 schedule: Home games vs. Evansville and Indiana and the first of its two Cancun Challenge games (vs. Illinois State). The Boilermakers have already postponed a preseason scrimmage vs. Providence in Boston and replaced a December game vs. Yale due to the Ivy League's cancelation of all sports prior to Jan. 1.
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