Uncertainty prevails as college basketball tip off approaches

Far too many unknowns as the University of Louisville begins practice for the 2020-21 basketball season. Action is supposed to tip off November 25th but hardly anyone knows who will be playing whom. Or where. And whether fans will be allowed.

The only things certain are that players want to play the game and fans want to attend.

College basketball schedules are in a state of flux, however. Negotiations are ongoing. UofL has yet to announce who its opening opponent will be.  Athletic Director Vince Tyra and Coach Chris Mack apparently are not at the point yet where they can shed any light on the topic.

With a Governor currently quarantined from the virus, it’s obvious that Tyra is still struggling with what attendance will look like at Louisville basketball games. If the Governor’s track record on athletic attendance is any indication, guidelines may not be available for a couple of weeks.

It’s common knowledge that discussions have included the possibility of numerous early season games being played on neutral courts or some schools hosting multi-team events to guard against disease exposure. A non-conference bubble event is reportedly in the works at the KFC Yum! Center from Nov. 25 through Dec. 5. With all the squeamishness connected to the corona virus, the decision making process is moving at a snail’s pace. One has to wonder whether the opening date is even safe.

The setup would be ideal for eight to 12 teams seeking true bubble shelter as the Yum has a connection to the Galt House Hotel. Teams are able stay in a controlled environment, undergo regular COVID-19 testing and front-load their shortened schedules with the multi-team event and possible additional neutral-site games on the same court. 

Louisville was originally one of four teams scheduled to compete in the 2020 MGM Resorts tournament in Las Vegas, previously set for Nov. 20-22. UofL was also set to resume the long-time rivalry with the University of Cincinnati. Both of those events are up in the air as well. The only sure thing is that the University of Kentucky wants to play UofL on Dec. 26th at the KFC Yum! Center.

‘Teams will be allowed to play a maximum of 24-27 games in the regular season and a minimum of 13 games if they want to qualify to be considered for NCAA Tournament selection.  That’s assuming, of course, there will be an NCAA tournament this season.  The traditional field of 64 teams seems a distant destination, with all the fear and uncertainty the virus has proliferated.

Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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