Part two of the Virginia men’s basketball team’s national title defense begins at the end of November.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that Nov. 25 will serve as the starting date for the 2020-21 college basketball season. Tina Thompson and the UVa women’s basketball program can also begin on Nov. 25.
“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. “It is a grand compromise of sorts and a unified approach that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes competing toward the 2021 Division I basketball championships.”
The UVa men’s basketball team was previously scheduled to begin its season on Nov. 10 against Gardner-Webb, according to game contracts obtained by The Daily Progress.
It’s unclear how Virginia’s schedule may shake out this fall. The Cavaliers were scheduled to play double-digit nonconference games, and four of those games were scheduled to occur prior to Nov. 25.
In addition to the season opener, UVa was supposed to face Temple in Charlotte on Nov. 13. A Nov. 16 home game against Long Beach State represented the second home contest of the year, and three days later the Cavaliers were scheduled to face James Madison in Harrisonburg at the Dukes’ new arena.
The next game for UVa was going to come in the Wooden Legacy Classic in Los Angeles. The field included Georgetown, Kansas and UCLA.
National college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein recently reported that Wooden Classic may take place in Orlando instead. It’s unclear if the field would remain the same, especially given an announcement from the Pac-12 earlier this summer saying it didn’t expect to allow competition until 2021. UCLA is a member of the Pac-12.
While the schedule for the season remains uncertain, a few firm plans were created by the NCAA. Practices can begin on Oct. 14, marking roughly one month until the start of official practices.
Prior to the start of official practices, there’s a “transition period” the NCAA announced Wednesday. The period starts on Sept. 21 and runs through Oct. 13. During that team strength and conditioning, sport-related meetings and skill instruction are allowed for up to 12 hours per week. Only eight of the hours can be used on skill instruction, and student-athletes must receive two days off each week.
Teams are recommended to play at least four nonconference games this season. Programs will also aim to play a minimum of 13 regular season games and a maximum of 27.
Virginia enters the 2020-21 season as one of the favorites to contend for a national championship.
Tony Bennett’s team returns Kihei Clark at point guard to go with Marquette transfer Sam Hauser at small forward and Jay Huff at center. Casey Morsell and Tomas Woldetensae add important depth at the shooting guard spot. Several other players should find time on the court for a program that won the 2018-19 national title.
UVa finished the 2019-20 season on a hot streak before COVID-19 canceled the season before the Wahoos took the court for postseason action. They’re hopeful the virus doesn’t impact the postseason this spring.
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