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NCAA announces November 25 start date for men’s college basketball

Plus, minimum game numbers, scrimmages, and recruiting limitations.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Slowly, more and more information is coming out as we try to figure out what the 2020-21 men’s college basketball season will look like. The NCAA Division I Council announced Wednesday, September 16 that they will move forward with November 25 as the start date for the 2020 season, moving it back from the original start date of November 10. This is the second straight season that college basketball has felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic after the 2019-20 season ended abruptly on March 12.

November 25, a Wednesday, falls the day before Thanksgiving. This date was one of the favorites in consideration — along with November 21 — because it fell in the sweet spot of students heading home from campus (or Grounds) for the holiday. Many schools, like Virginia, will be going fully online after fall break in an effort to reduce travel by students to and from various locations (and therefore increasing chances to spread the virus).

What this will mean for college basketball schedule-wise is still yet to be seen. Reports surfaced earlier this week that several November and December events will be held in alternate locations. Virginia will likely travel to Orlando for the Wooden Legacy event, which was originally scheduled for November 26-27.

The Cavaliers played in seven games before Thanksgiving in 2019-20 and five after, but two of those 12 games were against ACC opponents. It’s still uncertain what will happen to Virginia’s game against Villanova scheduled for December 19 at Madison Square Garden, or the Hoos’ game against Temple in Charlotte as part of the Hall of Fame Shootout on November 13. No updates have been given on the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, either.

According to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, a handful of other big decisions were made in the meetings. In addition to the start date, the NCAA voted that recruiting will continue its ongoing dead period until January 1, that no teams will be allowed scrimmages or exhibition games, and that teams can start practicing up to 12 hours per week beginning next Monday (September 21).

There is also a change to how many games teams will be allowed to play. From the NCAA’s official release:

The maximum number of contests was reduced by four, given that the season will start 15 days later than originally scheduled. In men’s basketball, teams can schedule 24 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to three games; 25 regular-season games and participate in one multiple-team event that includes up to two games; or 25 regular-season games if a team does not participate in a multiple-team event.

If the Wooden Legacy event stays the same, Virginia should have two games, meaning they can schedule 25 regular season games. If the ACC keeps a 20-game schedule, that leaves five games max for the Cavaliers to add to the roster (four if the Villanova game stands). Stay tuned for updates as we find out more.