Buy Or Sell: Michigan's Basketball Season Will Begin On Nov. 10 As Planned
The cancellation of Big Ten football has left the start of the Michigan Wolverines' basketball season in doubt, with many wondering whether or not they'll begin the 2020-21 campaign on time.
Is there enough time between now and early November to find a way to ensure the season will begin as planned, or are we in store for more cancellations and postponements on the hardcourt?
TheWolverine's Clayton Sayfie and Austin Fox provide their takes below.
Clayton Sayfie — Sell, barely
When college basketball was shut down in mid-March, we didn’t think it would impact the football season. All summer, as college football was in doubt, we hoped it wouldn’t again impact hoops, but here we are — it’s happening already.
Hidden within the Pac-12’s decision to cancel fall sports was the announcement that all athletics would be postponed until the end of the calendar year. And with that, Michigan’s Nov. 14 trip to Eugene for a matchup with the Oregon Ducks was postponed.
As of now, the season is scheduled to begin Nov. 10. There won't be an exact plan for play until, most likely, mid-September, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt revealed this week. So why not speculate?
There’s been chatter that leaders in winter sports are pegging the period of time immediately following Thanksgiving weekend until students return from break in early January to pack in games, since the risk of contracting the coronavirus and spreading it to others will be drastically reduced without the bulk of students in town. It’s important to note that most colleges moved up their academic calendar, with the fall semester ending Thanksgiving week.
While it's unlikely the Wolverines take on Georgia State at Crisler Center on Nov. 10 to open the campaign, it shouldn't be too long before fans get the chance to see the Maize and Blue compete in games. The logic behind playing right after Thanksgiving while other students are away on break makes much more sense than pushing the start of the season until the new year or later in the winter/spring. At this point, I expect a limited non-conference schedule before the Big Ten and other conferences jump into the league slate earlier than normal.
The NCAA doesn’t often warrant credit, but the basketball side of things, led by Gavitt (who holds a position that doesn’t exist for college football), has been much more organized and calculated, while attempting to have some form of uniformity across the country, instead of a free-for-all like what's going on now with college football.
Several prominent coaches, including Kentucky’s John Calipari, have suggested the NCAA set up a bubble-type environment for the NCAA Tournament come next spring, and Gavitt has said they’re exploring the option, though it must fit within “the college environment.”
"[A bubble for the NCAA Tournament is something] we've been talking about and studying for some time, since the NBA shared their plan," Gavitt told ESPN recently. "We've had a chance to see its execution. We know that it works."
It’s good news they’re planning ahead months in advance, something it doesn’t appear the Big Ten and some other conferences did before punting on college football.
There's much more confidence that college basketball will be closer to normal this winter than what we’ve seen for fall sports. Here’s hoping that’s the case.
Austin Fox — Sell
The odds of the college basketball season starting on time in early November seem very slim … at best. Michigan is slated to tip off its 2020-21 campaign on Nov. 10 against Georgia State, but we'll already predict that it won't happen.
It's also worth noting that two of U-M's biggest non-conference games — a Nov. 14 trip to Oregon and a Dec. 5 showdown against Kentucky in London — have both been canceled as well.
We'll take this notion a step further and project that all of Michigan's non-conference games get canceled. A start date on or around Jan. 1 seems to be the best case scenario right now for the Big Ten, with only league games getting played.
This whole virus debacle certainly won't be entirely gone by the time the calendar turns to 2021, but it will hopefully have died down enough to allow the college basketball season to start.
Whether or not the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are able to pull off successful football seasons this fall could speed up the process and influence collegiate decision makers around the nation, most notably cancel-happy Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren.
A complaint that some have had with college basketball in recent years has been the high number of non-conference games Power Five teams play against lesser opponents, with some deeming these contests as 'borderline-meaningless.'
Decision makers in the league probably wouldn't have too difficult of a time wiping out these non-conference affairs and settling for a league-only slate in the Big Ten this winter.
The Ivy League, for example, has already taken this route, stating it won't play any basketball games before Jan. 1. When considering how toxic things are right now in the Big Ten offices and how 'cautious' the league is being (that's what they want you to think) here in mid-August, it's hard to imagine their mindset will have changed enough in less than three months to allow the Big Ten to begin basketball action.
Potentially putting collegiate teams in one specified location is an idea that has been thrown around as well (like Sayfie mentioned above), but the Big Ten has already shown with football it isn't willing to go the extra mile to try and make things work.
If the conference isn't willing to do whatever it takes to make football work, it sure as heck isn't going to with basketball.
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