NCAA Sports

Big Ten to have a conference-only schedule for all fall sports

Big Ten to have a conference-only schedule for all fall sports if played

By Tyler Byrum July 09, 2020 3:11 PM

The Big Ten Conference announced that the league will only play in-conference matchups for the fall 2020 season if games are able to be held. 

The news was first reported by The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach and then confirmed by other outlets.

While this is a gigantic step for the conference as they navigate the coronavirus pandemic, this is most noteworthy to college football. 

Typically, the Big Ten holds nine in-conference contests for each school out of a 13-game schedule. It is unclear if the league will expand its conference schedule to accommodate or continue with nine games. ESPN is reporting that many schools would like a 10-game schedule. 

It is also possible the league will move around current schedules to prepare for potential interruptions, according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenburg.

RELATED: MAYBE OTHER LEAGUES SHOULD FOLLOW THE IVY LEAGUE’S LEAD

Removing those nonconference games will limit the student-athletes chance at exposure to the virus. There will be less travel, less hotel stays and fewer individuals that could create a mass-spread of the virus. 

However, with no out-of-conference contests for the upcoming season, the league will not be able to elevate itself as a whole across the college football landscape. It will cancel marquee matchups such as Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, Ohio State at Oregon, Penn State at Virginia Tech and Miami at Michigan State.

For the Maryland Terrapins, they lose a big road contest with West Virginia. Additionally, they had home games scheduled against Towson and Northern Illinois.

As one of the biggest leagues in the country (14 teams), the Big Ten does have the flexibility to expand its schedule with each team playing a full season. However, it could drastically affect how the league is perceived in the scope of the College Football Playoff, especially if other leagues do not follow suit. A one or two-loss league champion does not have any national measuring sticks.

The Big Ten has had a team in the Playoff four of the seven seasons it has been in effect. 

This decision comes on the heels of the Ivy League canceling all of their fall sports for the upcoming semester. The Ivy was the first league across the country to make a move so drastic. It should be noted that the Ivy was also the first league to cancel all spring sports at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This move does not guarantee that the Big Ten will still have football games this fall. It merely serves as a simpler attempt to safely have a season. Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren isn’t even convinced there will be a season. 

The conference also will allow student-athletes to choose not to play for the 2020-21 academic year to maintain their scholarship.

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Tags: Big Ten Conference

A poll of 250 college basketball coaches reveals 74% want a semi-normal schedule this year

By Tim Murray July 10, 2020 10:22 PM

Several college conferences across the country are preparing for the fall sports season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Big Ten announced on Thursday that it will go to a “conference-only” model for all fall sports. The Pac-12 followed announcing football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball will play only conference games. Earlier in the week, the Ivy League announced no sports would be played until January 1.

RELATED: MAYBE OTHER LEAGUES SHOULD FOLLOW THE IVY LEAGUE’S LEAD

More conferences are likely to follow shortly. But after fall sports, what will happen with winter sports and, specifically, with college basketball? Stadium basketball analyst Jeff Goodman conducted an interesting poll.

Of the 250 Division I head men’s basketball coaches (of a 353 total), 74% want a season with non-conference and conference play. Only 24% of coaches want to push the start of the season to January and play exclusively conference games.

One of the unique aspects of early-season college basketball is the non-conference matchups, sometimes in exotic locations. One of the most notable, the Maui Invitational, is planning to move forward as scheduled.

A handful of local teams are scheduled to travel to tournaments this November. Virginia and Georgetown will both head to Anaheim, Calif. for the Wooden Legacy. VCU is part of an eight-team field at the Charleston Classic and George Mason is reportedly traveling to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam.

There is plenty to be sorted out before the start of the college basketball season but for now, we will take some optimism from the men on the sidelines. 

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Tags: NCAA, College basketball

How Lamelo Ball playing in Australia factored into 5-star recruit Makur Maker’s decision to choose Howard

By Quinton Mayo July 09, 2020 5:25 PM

When 2020 five-star recruit Makur Maker committed to Howard University in D.C., he sent shockwaves through the entire landscape of the basketball world, becoming the first top recruit to announce his intent to play at a historically Black college or university (HBCU) since Earl Jones played for the University of the District of Columbia in 1980.

While the decision was intricate and monumental on a multitude of levels, Maker revealed an interesting layer of his decision-making process:

He thought of future NBA lottery pick LaMelo Ball.

“I figured if LaMelo Ball could go to Australia, play in facilities like that, and still be considered a top NBA prospect, why not Howard?” Maker said.

Ball’s path to the draft very well may be one of the most remarkable in sports history. Fast-forwarding to his final season at SPIRE, Ball was not eligible to attend college, therefore he agreed to a deal with the Illawarra Hawks in Australia to play in the NBL. 

RELATED: HOWARD FINALIST FOR 2021 FIVE STAR DEFENSIVE END

The decision was heavily scrutinized nationally with many believing it would drastically decrease his draft stock — one disclosed scout told USA Today “the untraditional route (NBL) will almost certainly cost him (LaMelo) once draft night approaches.”

After averaging 17.0 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.4 rebounds in the NBL and having his season cut short due to a bone bruise in his left foot, Ball is in the conversation to go the number one overall in the upcoming draft.

Point made. 

“People also sleep on the competitive nature of the MEAC [Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference],” Maker said. “The pace and open flow style of play of the MEAC is more similar to the NBA, in my opinion. It’s a read-and-react league, so it will definitely help me get ready for the NBA.”

Former head coach and NBC Sports Washington basketball analyst Jimmy Patsos, believes in Makers’ decision and thinks it could spark a huge movement within college basketball. 

“If one person can lead a revolution, one person can lead a movement, this could be the guy,” Patsos said on Friday. “Why not him changing the landscape of college basketball?”

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Tags: LaMelo Ball, Makur Maker

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