Big East could move up start date for conference play to mid-December, utilize bubble setting to get all 20 games in, per source

Tribune Content Agency

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Big East will explore moving up the start date of conference play and utilizing a bubble setting so its member basketball schools can play all 20 scheduled league games, according to a source with knowledge of a virtual meeting of coaches and athletic directors Thursday.

Each of the 11 teams were originally slated to play a home-and-home with all 10 opponents. But the delayed Nov. 25 start date for the 2020-21 season, which was approved by the NCAA’s Division I council on Wednesday, will require some creativity. The preference would still be for Big East teams to play each other twice, though not necessarily home-and-home.

Rather than start at the end of December, conference play could be moved up a couple of weeks to mid-December. This would allow teams to take more advantage of the time when campuses are empty, or near empty, between semesters and teams could be insulated in their own “bubbles.”

If it is determined that playing at campus sites are not practical by mid-December, the Big East could form a pod, bringing the 11 teams to one site where each would play their first handful of conference games. Mohegan Sun would likely be considered, if available. However, it is not likely that teams would want to remain in a “bubble” for more than two weeks.

So most, if not all conference games would then be played on campus sites and be subject to local health/safety rules and the status of the pandemic at various places, various times. Some Big East schools believe they could be able to have some fans at games.

As part of Wednesday’s proposal, Division I teams will play as many as 27 games, with at least four nonconference games incorporated for the purpose of NCAA Tournament selection.

Once the conference establishes a scheduling model, schools can then assemble their individual schedules, and this process is likely to move quickly.

With the season beginning Nov. 25, this would create a window of about four weeks to play nonconference games, either in multi-team events or separately. There have been proposals to invite pods of teams to certain venues, such as Mohegan Sun, to play nonconference games in early to mid-December.


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