By John Bohnenkamp
Ben Jacobson thought he had put together a strong nonconference schedule for the 2020-21 college basketball season, but the Northern Iowa coach knew that probably wasn’t going to happen.
When I talked to him three weeks ago, he still had no idea what the season was going to look like because of the concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If things would be normal for November and December, and I understand we all feel like it probably won’t be, we’ve got some good games on the books, and could really have a fun nonconference (schedule)” Jacobson said. “Good enough games that are (NCAA Tournament) at-large worthy type of games. So if that happens, I feel really good about our nonconference schedule.
“But if it doesn’t happen, we’re up for anything. We want to be part of whatever’s happening. If it’s from Thanksgiving to January 1, or ‘bubble’ situations, whatever’s happening, we want to be a part of that.”
College basketball got its first answer on Wednesday, when the NCAA Division I Council set a November 25 start date for games.
Practices can begin on October 14. The maximum number of games that can be played was set at 27, down from the maximum of 31, with the recommendation of a minimum of four nonconference games. Teams must play a minimum of 13 games, and there can be no scrimmages or exhibition games.
It’s a road map to a start of a season that looked so uncertain a couple of months ago.
Now we will find out if there will be December or January “bubbles” like the NBA and NHL used so well, an idea that Major League Baseball wants to copy for its postseason. Now we will find out how power conferences will schedule, and how it will affect the mid-major leagues.
Where everyone will be to start the season is still unclear. They just know they’ll be somewhere.
And it’s a start.