After months of trepidation and waiting, college basketball is finally on its way back to the courts. After voting completed this September to decide on what is to happen with the 2020/21 season, the NCAA announced that basketball action will be returning as of November 25th, 2020.
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The decision surrounding the next season's timetabling has not been easy to make. After all, much in the way of sport, this year has faced rescheduling and even mass cancellation. However, it seems the NCAA has agreed to press forward.
In the name of safety, however, there are to be a few changes made to games. Of course, we're living in the age of a 'new normal' – for however long it's likely to last. Therefore, while games are heading back to courts by the holiday season, they are going to seem a little bit different, at least for a while.
Teams are now allowed to start practising, safely, up to 12 hours each week. As we all know, they are certainly going to need to put the time in. However, the NCAA has also cut back on scrimmages, and there's to be no more recruitment drives until at least the New Year.
There's also been much discussion over 'bubbles'. A 'bubble' applies to a sporting event where an environment is fully controlled. Therefore, unlike traditional sporting events where people can normally freely move and meander as they wish, things are likely to be a little more stringent.
This, however, does go against what was initially being discussed. While bubbles have been in play across the NBA and NHL, for example, there were concerns that college basketball wouldn't be able to afford such protections.
However, the general consensus is that a bubble system will likely be sought if the new season is to go ahead as suggested. Given that discussions were reverberating regarding whether or not the leagues would come back before January, a little takeback was expected.
While college basketball fans can look forward to a fantastic season ahead, it remains to be said that there are still a few bits and pieces which will need ironing out. For one thing, will fans still be able to attend in a manner to which they're used to? If the idea of bubbles goes forward, social distancing might have to come into play.
Not only that, but fans and players – as well as coaches – will need to consider how many games are on the slate. Generally, we can expect around 30 games in any one season. However, will this be shortened as a result of ongoing crises? It is another matter we will all have to consider.
For now, however, think positive – college basketball is coming back. Quite the shape or form it will take remains to be seen, but at least we know that we can end the year with some court action either way.