Hoops Roundup: 18-game schedule; MW-A10 Challenge cancelled; MTEs on the move
Scheduling announcements coming fast in wake of new start date
Shortened season coming into focus
The 2020-21 college basketball season is finally starting to take shape following months of uncertainty regarding the future of the sport in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic. Despite the myriad challenges facing the NCAA and its member organizations, it appears that college basketball is set to experience only a slight delay from its original November 10 start date. The new season is now scheduled to begin on November 25, per the NCAA’s Division I Council.
Among the new stipulations for the truncated season is that each school can play a maximum of 27 games during the season, including the multiple-team events (MTEs) that have become part and parcel with the beginning of each new hoops year. That limit falls to 25 games if schools choose not to participate in an MTE. At the lower bound, schools must participate in a minimum of 13 contests against fellow Division I programs to be eligible for the NCAA Championships in the spring. This provision gives some leeway to a conference like the Ivy League, which may not start competition until 2021.
As for the tournament itself, the March festivities are currently slated to begin as scheduled. “We are planning and continue to plan to have our championship with the full field,” NCAA Senior Vice President of Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman told NCAA.com correspondent Andy Katz last week.
18-Game MW Season
The @MountainWest will look to play 18 league games in basketball, beginning in late December. The MWC will play non-conference games.
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) September 18, 2020
The Mountain West appears to be equally prepared to proceed as planned with its basketball season. On Friday, Katz tweeted that the league will play a full schedule of 18 league games this year. This is in keeping with the original plans for the 2020-21 campaign, though the MW has confirmed that it will be moving to a 20-game conference schedule starting in 2022-23.
In addition to the number of conference games being played, Katz also confirmed that Mountain West schools will be taking part in non-conference games. Schools will be able to schedule six to seven non-conference games, depending on the number of games being played in their respective MTE.
MW-A10 Challenge Cancelled
On Monday, the league announced that the MW-A10 Challenge would be postponed until next year, opening up an extra scheduling opportunity for most Mountain West schools. The inter-conference challenge will now take place in 2021-22 and 2022-23, and the leagues have the option of extending the contract further.
One reason for the postponement of the MW-A10 Challenge is that teams are scrambling to finalize their schedules in the wake of the new NCAA start date. The change could also allow programs from both conferences to schedule games closer to their own geographic footprint, potentially mitigating travel issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
MTEs on the Move
- Myrtle Beach Invitational – Utah State
- MGM Resorts Main Event – Colorado State
- Cayman Islands Classic – Nevada
- Maui Jim Maui Invitational – UNLV
- Orlando Invitational – Boise State
- Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational – New Mexico
- Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic – San Diego State
- Maryland Showcase – San Jose State
- Dana Point Southern California Challenge – Fresno State
- Puerto Rico MTE (not yet named) – Air Force
- Wyoming Tournament – Wyoming
It remains to be seen whether all these events will proceed as scheduled. On Monday, ESPN announced plans to move eight of the MTEs it runs to their Wide World of Sports properties at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Among those events are the Myrtle Beach Invitational (Utah State), the Orlando Invitational (Boise State), and the Diamond Head Classic (San Diego State).
Elsewhere, the Maui Invitational (UNLV) has been moved to Asheville, while the Cayman Islands Classic (Nevada) is headed for the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. The MGM Grand Main Event (Colorado State) is still on track to take place in Las Vegas. On the other hand, the scheduling fates of Air Force, Fresno State, San Jose State, and Wyoming still hang in the balance as they wait for word on their respective events.
We here at Mountain West Wire will continue to keep you updated on all the developments as the 2020-21 hoops season starts to come into focus.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.