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The Possibility Of No Basketball (Again)

Fall sports for the Big Ten are gone, but what are the possible PAC-12 decision on winter sports implications for the hardwood?

Nebraska v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

On Tuesday the Big Ten and PAC-12 conferences stated that they would not hold fall sporting events for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. No football, volleyball, soccer, quidditch, etc. It has shaken the college sports world to it’s core.

Let’s be honest, we are not being dramatic when we say that. People are not only trying to work around not having two conferences play this year but also the division that has come from it, Nebraska seemingly in the middle of it all.

Unlike the Big Ten decision that stuck strictly to fall sports for the time being, the PAC-12 took it one step further. They announced no sports until January 1, 2021. That means that there will be no PAC-12 basketball until 2021 either. For those of you who just follow football, and this is a Husker site so there are many of you, basketball technically starts in the fall (practices begin in early October to be exact) and goes through the winter. Yes, can you believe it?

So the schools out in the far-west are not going to do anything this year at all. Good for them, you say. It’s the PAC-12 and no one cares about them anyway! They play after we all go to bed. Well, this could very well impact the seasons of many other college basketball teams across the country. Yes, many of the teams you know and love (even Kansas for you original “Jayskers” out there). This little caveat will also affect many in the Big Ten as well.

With only 10 non-conference games played by Big Ten institutions this year (not counting tournaments), many might have to scramble to find a replacement for their lost PAC-12 game. While few Big Ten teams have their non-conference schedules out yet, more than a couple are slated for tournaments throughout the fall. The PAC-12 bowing out of 2020 play will have influence over the makeup of those games. It could also have a big impact on bracket releases, especially given it took the Myrtle Beach Invitational our Nebraska Cornhuskers are scheduled to participate in roughly a month to replace Ivy League member Penn who made the same decision on 2020 sports as the PAC-12 early last month.

We will also add that these tournaments might very well be cancelled due to COVID-19 and the inability of teams being able to travel and stay at these tournament destinations. For this article however, we will treat them as still moving forward with play.

The two regular non-conference games impacting a B1G member that will have to be rescheduled is Iowa vs. Oregon State on December 22nd. Iowa will need to find an alternative opponent as the Beavers now. Though, we will admit Oregon State is the winner here because they most likely would have not survived the game. Iowa is slated to be one of the better teams in the conference this year (though Kevin will dispute they need to play defense to live up to the No. 1 projection being given pre-season), and Oregon State is not exactly a power on the west coast.

The other game is Michigan who was scheduled to travel to Eugene to finish a home-and-home series started last season against Oregon. Michigan was set to jet out west to the beaver state on November 14th. Last years game between the Wolverines and Ducks was a one point win for Oregon (something Kevin was happy with the result of, obviously). We would have expected another good game between these two squads, particularly if Juwan Howard got sent home with another loss.

As for the tournaments that are impacted, they are as follows:

  • Ohio State (and Creighton) are scheduled to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis along with Utah on November 25th-27th.
  • Indiana is scheduled to play in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational along with Stanford on November 25th-27th. Nope, men’s basketball was not one of the 11 sports dropped by the Cardinal.
  • Wisconsin is scheduled to play in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off along with Colorado on November 25th-27th. While Patrick thinks this might have been a good match up to watch as he argues both are trying to rebuild, Kevin is more of the mind Wisconsin is a dangerous team this season no matter how eye-gougingly awful their style of play remains.
  • Northwestern is scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City along with Cal-Berkley on November 23rd-24th. We struggle to believe anyone will notice the loss of this possible barn burner.
  • Illinois is scheduled to play in the Emerald Coast Classic (no, not that “emerald coast,” but rather Niceville, FL) as is Oregon on November 27th-29th. Illinois had an absolutely huge coup in getting both Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn back this season, so had these two teams actually faced off against each other it would have been an even better match-up than Michigan’s trip to Eugene.

Speaking of good games, even if they aren’t Big Ten teams scheduled to play, also nixed as a result is a CBS Sports Classic tilt of blue-bloods Kentucky and UCLA on December 19th. However, this event was originally scheduled to be a double-header between Ohio State and North Carolina as well so still technically Big Ten related.

So as you can see, there is a ripple effect going on that will cause problems for many schools across the country. This is of course if we even have a basketball season this year. Everyone needs to wrap their heads around this for awhile before anything happens. We assume most conferences are just trying to get through the possible start of the football season before they really exert a true focus upon planning for basketball season.

However, there is some hope for a hoops season. It has been reported by a few outlets now, including CBS, that there are conversations regarding a possible bubble scenario for the sport. Namely it would require a conference only slate, which would certainly make for an interesting struggle in figuring out seeding for the NCAA tournament come March.

Given classes at most Big Ten schools are scheduled to move to online only after Thanksgiving and the smaller roster sizes of basketball teams and support staff, this is far more plausible as something that can be pulled off than for football. But will it happen? We more or less asked you all that on Twitter, and you will find the final poll results showing the answer on Friday afternoon.

Regardless, more information will come out in the upcoming months, and we will have a better handle on where this is all going long before the first tip off event happens. In the meantime, we will presume no changes in our preseason coverage and hope for Kevin’s sanity that he doesn’t have to endure two cancelled March Madnesses in a row on top of a cancelled football season to boot.