What can college basketball learn from its football counterpart?

As college football soldiers on. Those in charge of college basketball have seen a planned ESPN bubble cancel. Those in charge of college basketball should learn from the mistakes college football made.

College basketball’s bubble burst in recent weeks, but the NCAA seems committed to making this season work. 

On Sep. 16 the NCAA announced that it fully intended to play college basketball starting Nov. 25. However, on Oct. 26 ESPN announced its plan to scrap the college basketball bubble that was planning to take place in Orlando. 

Everyone close to the situation has detailed extensively that the disagreement was over-testing protocols within the bubble, and what could be deemed as safe. 

Where it stands now, questions still remain over how exactly events like the Champions Classic and the Jimmy V Classic will be played. The teams involved in either event: Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Illinois, Gonzaga, and Tennessee. 

The hope is that these events can be played elsewhere, but that still remains up in the air per Borzello’s latest report. 

The need for college basketball

As a second wave of the pandemic surges through the midwest, fans of college football have seen it dismantle teams. There have been COVID-19 outbreaks that take out upwards of 20 players on a given team, and the NCAA hasn’t seemed to have a great hold on how to slow the spread. 

Not that anyone has a great hold on how to stop the spread of COVID-19.

However, with COVID-19 and all, college football hasn’t quit. Teams have postponed and rescheduled until they were cleared to play. It’s set up a very atypical year, and crowning a national champion might be more difficult than ever. Consequently, college football fans might actually get the best four teams in the playoff, finally. 

Consequently, the events from college football will more than likely transpire in college basketball. 

Teams conference schedules are set in stone, and what many teams are struggling to piece together at this point is the nonconference portion of the schedule. If nonconference games take place, look for games with minimal travel. 

We can assume that, much like football, there will be a heavy focus on conference play, and those games will be the ones that build resumes for the national tournament hopefuls. 

The gravity of the pandemic

Another thing to expect is a slew of COVID positive tests. Teams will be forced to reschedule games, change venues, and play with limited rosters–just like college football. 

These positive tests may change the outlook of supposed big-time matchups. They may also change the direction of teams. COVID-19 affects everyone differently. Amidst all the uncertainty and murky nature of the hopeful season, those watching have to be completely cognizant that it would take a complete disaster to stop the NCAA from, at least, playing Power Five basketball. 

There may be delays, but as the saying goes — the show must go on. 

The learning curve in college basketball

The NCAA and its partnering conferences learned from the mess that is college football. Though the sport has powered on, it hasn’t done as well as many hoped it would, when it came to dealing with the pandemic in conjunction with the sport. 

Those in charge of basketball have to have learned from football, or basketball may not survive. The canceling of the ESPN bubble could be a warning sign of what the future may hold for college basketball this season. It could also mean that both the NCAA and its entertainment partner are just seeking the safest way to make the most money. 

The weird pandemic year is going to get even weirder before anything becomes normal again. This college basketball season is going to be far from normal, but it’s something each conference has to at least try to see through. The sport has become one of the most expensive experiments in recent sports history. 

ESPN’s bubble canceled due to a testing dispute, but I doubt that it means college basketball will as well.


  • Ian Kayanja

    I am a college basketball writer primarily based in Nashville, covering all mid-major activity along with Big Ten hoops.

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