Everyone remembers the day.
March 12, 2020 — Less than 24 hours after news of Rudy Gobert contracting the coronavirus made its rounds, sports leagues across the country went dark. Before the first quarterfinal game of the Big East Tournament tipped off, other conferences were suspending and cancelling their conference tournament. The Creighton Bluejays and St. John’s Red Storm played the final half of Big East and college basketball, before the game and the rest of the tournament was inevitably cancelled.
There hasn’t been any basketball since, and the future is filled with uncertainty. As the pros prepare for a return to sports, colleges and high schools are scrambling for answers and plans for this upcoming school year.
Some college conferences have already made rulings with how the fall semester of athletics will be handled. What about basketball?
There are a number of different possible scenarios and many opinions, let’s take a look at a few.
Option A — The college basketball season returns normally (as much as possible)
It should really say, as close to normal as possible, since some conferences have already said they will suspend sports until Jan. 1, therefore affecting those men’s and women’s basketball teams looking to tip off their season in November. Due to some conferences suspending sports until New Year’s, some schools would have to find some new non-conference opponents, but having a pretty normal college basketball season in terms of schedule would undeniably be the best-case scenario.
Option B — The college basketball season is cancelled
The opposite end of the spectrum, and the worst-case scenario, would be that there are no college basketball games for the 2020-21 season. No games at all. Whether it’s a surge in coronavirus, apocalypse, overreaction, or a cautious early decision, whatever the reason is, it definitely won’t be a fun scenario.
Option C — Start in November, but conference-play only in full regular season
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard proposed having a full regular season, but make it conference opponents only. A 26-game regular season schedule of Big East teams only? Willard argues that since some schools won’t have their student bodies on campus after Thanksgiving, it will be safe for the players to go to work. Also, by limiting it to just conference opponents only, the Big East or respective college basketball conferences can enforce and instill their own safety procedures and guidelines. Since teams will know their fellow opponents will have to follow the same exact standards set by the conference, there’s some comfort in that.
Option D — Start in January, but conference-play only in shorter regular season
Similar to Option C, but instead of a full season, it will be trimmed down. A delayed start in January gives an opportunity to see where the coronavirus case numbers will be and buy the sport some time. A number of coaches have went on the record thinking this will be the best and most realistic scenario. It’ll be unfortunate that there will be no non-conference schedule in this scenario, especially since it looked like the Villanova Wildcats were going to have a pretty fun lineup: Virginia, Texas, revenge tour at Madison Square Garden in tournament featuring Michigan, N.C. State, and Baylor, as well as Howard + Big 5 (pencil in another city crown). Fans will get to enjoy some college hoops, although they’ll have to wait until January, and it’ll be a conference-only slate.
Option E — Full college basketball season, but delay start to January
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions. Get a full 2020-21 college basketball season with non-conference play included, but extend the season. Start the season in January, but instead of March Madness, give us April Absurdity and May Madness.
Option F — Other! Let us know in the comments!
Got a better solution? Vote in our poll and let us know what you think is the most realistic scenario for the 2020-21 season, and which route the NCAA and Big East should take this year. There won’t be any answers for a while, as the NCAA figures out how it’ll get through the fall sports season first.
What do you think is the most realistic return-to-play scenario for college basketball in 2020-21?
This poll is closed
A — College hoops season returns normally (as much as possible)
B — 2020-21 college basketball season is cancelled
C — Start season in Nov., but a full regular season of conference opponents only
D — Start season in Jan., but shortened regular season with conference-play only
E — Full college basketball season, but delay start to January and extend season past April
F — Other! Let us know in the comments!