After an offseason spent in limbo, college basketball received a dose of clarity on Wednesday. The NCAA Division I Council reached a comprehensive agreement that, among other protocols, announced the 2020-21 season will start on Nov. 25. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports was the first to report the news.
The season was originally scheduled to get underway on Nov. 10, with Michigan slated to host Georgia State for the opener.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s decision to reverse course and reinstate the fall football season, which is set to start on Oct. 24. In both cases, the ability to conduct frequent, rapid and reliable antigen tests made the resumption of collegiate athletics feasible.
While a start date is at last set in stone, the schedule remains in flux. Before the announcement of the 15-day delay to the start of the season, the pandemic had already altered Michigan’s nonconference slate: a matchup with Kentucky in London was postponed, as was the second leg of a home-and-home series with Oregon.
An option gaining significant traction is shifting preseason tournaments to bubble settings, emulating successful models implemented by the NBA and NHL. The Wolverines are scheduled to play in the Empire 2K Classic, a tournament normally held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This year, the event is rumored to be incorporated into a bubble atmosphere at the Mohegan Sun casino and resort in Uncasville, Conn.
Michigan athletes were first allowed to return to campus in late June for voluntary practices, and have since been subject to weekly testing. According to the latest update from the athletic department, Michigan had 12 positive test results from 904 tests conducted last week.
Under the NCAA Division I Council’s decision, the team will be allowed to resume practice 42 days prior to the Nov. 25 start date, on Oct. 14., according to Andy Katz. No scrimmages or exhibitions will be allowed during that period. The maximum number of games required to be played was also reduced from 31 to 27, with the minimum being 13.
With a date now circled on their calendars, the Wolverines can shift their focus to preparing for a season. Buoyed by the return of senior forward Isaiah Livers, who turned down the NBA Draft, and a highly anticipated sophomore campaign from forward Franz Wagner, Michigan is well-positioned to compete in the Big Ten.