news 4 days ago

College basketball has a start date, but WSU's nonconference schedule will need tweaks

The Wichita Eagle — Taylor Eldridge The Wichita Eagle

Sept. 16-- Sep. 16--The countdown is officially on until the start of the 2020-21 college basketball season.

According to reports from Wednesday's Division I Council meeting, the official start date of the upcoming season will be Wednesday, November 25 -- the day before Thanksgiving. Teams can practice for 12 hours per week (eight on the court) beginning Monday, while full practices begin October 14.

That's about three weeks later than usual, as the coronavirus pandemic forced NCAA officials to push back the start of the season. Last season, the Wichita State men's basketball team played an exhibition game on October 29 and began its season on November 5.

Now that the NCAA has finally locked in a start date, WSU can get to work to modify its nonconference schedule. According to reports, the pushed-back date will chop off approximately four nonconference games (WSU usually plays 12 or 13 in a season).

The condensed time schedule shouldn't impact marquee nonconference games for WSU against Oklahoma State, Mississippi or Missouri. How it might affect buy games that WSU has reportedly agreed to with Sam Houston State, North Texas, Oral Roberts, Western Kentucky and Central Arkansas remain to be seen.

The most interesting question is how the start date will affect the Battle 4 Atlantis, the marquee tournament WSU is included in this season.

News broke on Monday that the tournament had relocated from the Bahamas to the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where a small number of fans will be allowed in attendance. The tournament was originally scheduled to begin on November 25 and conclude November 27.

Will a loaded tournament -- Duke, Ohio State, Creighton, West Virginia, Memphis, Texas A&M and Utah will join WSU -- be the season-opener for those teams? Or will tournament organizers push it back to allow those teams to host a game or two as a warm-up before such stiff competition?

That question should be answered in the coming days.

It also appears that Wichita State's scheduled scrimmage against Kansas State, set for October 24 at INTRUST Bank Arena, has been nixed, as the Division I Council reportedly voted to not have scrimmages or exhibitions this season.

WSU is not expected to release its nonconference schedule this week, but fans should see a finalized schedule by the end of the month. The American Athletic Conference will also begin work to decide on what to do for its conference season.

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