NCAA men’s hoops can start in late November

FILE PHOTO: NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament

Tipoff for the 2020-21 men’s and women’s college basketball seasons will be on or around Nov. 25, the NCAA Division I Council announced Wednesday.

The beginning of the season was delayed just over two weeks from the originally scheduled start of Nov. 10 as college athletics continue to wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the basketball season,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing towards the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”

The Nov. 25 date is only a guideline for the start date, as conferences and individual schools will make adjustments to best fit their respective schedules. Gavitt said the NCAA is still planning for the NCAA Tournament to proceed as scheduled with 68 teams and 14 sites in March and April.

The Division I Council also changed the maximum number of games a men’s team can play, reducing it by four. Teams are allowed to play 24 or 25 games plus one multiple-team event. The minimum total was dropped to 13 games.

Women’s teams can schedule 23 games — plus one multiple-team event — or 25 games without a multiple-team event.

Full preseason practices can begin Oct. 14, with 30 practices permitted over the 42 days until the start of the season.

-Field Level Media