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Breaking down Big Ten football and college basketball start dates

Well, for the first time in a while we had no playoff basketball and no playoff hockey last night. I gotta say, I wasn’t a huge fan of that! 

I know we went month and months living without consistent sports and things are set to start slowing down here soon, but I’ve grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle and I felt a little lost without some postseason thrills last night. To pass the time, I tried to play that game “Among Us” with some friends (I’m very bad… shocker) and then wondered how many hours of my life I’m going to waste playing that new Hogwarts RPG that was announced at the PS5 event yesterday. 

Luckily, we’ve got playoff action (and football!) returning to our television sets tonight and, for that, I’m thankful. And, on top of that, we’ve got some very big news regarding college football and college basketball, so we’ll have to set some time aside for that this morning too. Pour yourself some coffee and let’s get down to business, pal.


📰 What you need to know

1. The Big Ten is back 🏈

We’d been hearing rumblings of an impending Big Ten announcement regarding a 2020 football season, and yesterday we finally got it: There will be Big Ten football in 2020 after all.

The conference will hold a truncated season this fall/winter, reversing an earlier decision to postpone the 2020 season until spring 2021. The reversal comes 28 days after conference leadership said the decision wouldn’t be revisited. 

Here’s what Big Ten football will look like in 2020: 

  • The season will open the weekend of Oct. 24
  • Teams will play eight regular-season games over eight weeks, along with an additional game during Big Ten Championship week (scheduled for December 19)
  • In an unprecedented twist, the teams placing second-through-seventh in their divisions will match up for consolation games during championship week
  • The Big Ten will be eligible for the College Football Playoff, as the final CFP Rankings announcement of the season is set for December 20
  • Fans will not be able to attend any games, though families of players, coaches and staff may be able to attend

So, what’s changed since the postponement to warrant a reversal? The Big Ten will now feature daily, rapid COVID-19 testing as a focal point of its return to play plan. And, if a player does test positive, the earliest they’ll be able to return is 21 days later. According to the conference, all COVID-19 positive student-athletes “will have to undergo comprehensive cardiac testing” before they are cleared to play.

The biggest concern with this plan seems to be the lack of flexibility in the schedule. Nine games in nine weeks means there’s almost zero room for error, and there still remains a huge amount of uncertainty when it comes to COVID-19. The other conferences in action this fall/winter have a surplus of bye weeks in order to accommodate any necessary make-up games. The Big Ten will not have the luxury of being able to move things around. 

Still, this is exciting news for anyone who wants more football in 2020 — including some of the Big Ten players who were vocal about wanting to play this year. Now we’ll have to keep an eye on the players who already opted out of the spring plans and see if they, like the conference they play in, have changed their mind.


2. College basketball gets a start date, but big questions remain 🏀

  
USATSI

Not only do we have more football to look forward to, now we also have an official start date for the college hoops season. It will begin on November 25 following a vote by the NCAA’s Division I Council on Wednesday. Here are the details we know so far:

  • The season maximum has been reduced to 24-27 games (cap will depend on whether teams participate in multi-team events, such as the Maui Invitational)
  • Preseason will start as early as October 14. There will be no scrimmages or exhibitions allowed in the preseason
  • COVID-related testing regulations and protocols have yet to be decided

A start date of just before Thanksgiving makes some sense logistically considering most college campuses will be vacated by then. A November 21st start date was discussed but it was ultimately decided that a little later would be smarter and safer for all involved. 

As redundant as it may seem, I gotta throw in the disclaimer that there’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding coronavirus and this whole situation. We now have a date but there still are plenty of unanswered questions with regards to the upcoming season. Will it be played in a bubble? Will non-conference games be played? How will a potentially lopsided schedule be scaled? Heck, even that start date is still pretty tentative for now. NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt told CBS Sports that if  circumstances surrounding COVID-19 were to worsen between now and November, the season could be pushed back again.

In all honestly, we don’t know a ton about the upcoming college basketball season right now. Like, at all. We just know that they want to play and navigate the pandemic by any means necessary. We’ll just have to wait to see what that “necessary” looks like as November 25 gets closer. 

3. LeBron James makes history with 16th All-NBA selection 🏀

Sadly, we didn’t have any NBA playoff action yesterday but we did have a little bit of news thanks to the All-NBA Team selections. The voting results were announced Wednesday and it turns out we’ve got a little history on our hands this year.

  • LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo both led the way in votes and were the only two unanimous first-team selections
  • It’s LeBron’s 16th All-NBA selection — the most in the history of the league. He was previously tied with Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 15 All-NBA nominations
  • It’s James’ 13th All-NBA First Team selection — also a new NBA record

Here’s your full All-NBA First Team for 2020:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • LeBron James
  • James Harden
  • Anthony Davis
  • Luka Doncic

You can check out the Second Team and Third Team right here. Congrats to LeBron on adding another sweet statistical accomplishment to the resume but I’d imagine he’s having some trouble soaking this one in while trying to prepare for the presently unstoppable Nikola Jokic in Western Conference Finals. 


4. 2020 U.S. Open picks 🏌


USATSI

Who’s ready for some major championship golf today, huh? We’ve got an excellent field of golfers ready to compete for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot this week in the first major of the season. The event kicks off Thursday and it looks like the course is going to present quite a challenge for all involved. 

Let’s get some valuable picks from our golf experts:

  • Kyle Porter: Jon Rahm (10-1)
  • Chip Patterson: Jon Rahm (10-1)
  • Kyle Boone: Collin Morikawa (18-1)
  • Adam Silverstein: Justin Thomas (14-1)

Why Rahm at the top of the prediction board? Let’s hear it straight from Porter’s mouth… or keyboard. Whatever, you know what I mean.

  • Porter: “The two toughest golf tournaments of 2020 have both been won by Rahm. He took the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village and the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields, both impressively against loaded fields. Those tournaments serve as facsimiles for this U.S. Open, and Rahm has the short game to stand up even if he doesn’t have his best tee-to-green package at Winged Foot.”

Okay, now you’ve got your winners… interested in more picks and predictions from our staff? The golf crew has also thrown in sleeper picks, top 10 locks, stars who definitely won’t win and surprise predictions. 

Earlier this week we talked about Tiger Woods looking for redemption at Winged Foot. We can certainly throw Phil Mickelson into that same boat. Lefty missed out on the career slam at Winged Foot 14 years ago when he double-bogeyed the final hole to lose the 2006 U.S. Open. It’d be a great story if he was able to find redemption and cap off the slam, and Porter thinks Phil’s still got some magic left in him… but we’re probably not going to see it this weekend.


📝 Odds & Ends


Nike.com

📺 What to watch tonight


USATSI

🏀 Heat vs. Celtics, 7 p.m. | BOS -2.5 | TV: ESPN  

🏒 Lightning vs. Islanders, 8 p.m. | NYI +140 | TV: NBCSN

🏈 Bengals vs. Browns, 8:20 p.m. | CLE -6 | TV: NFLN


📝 Top scores from last night

⚾ Nationals 4, Rays 2 (10 innings)

Rookie Luis Garcia hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning to give Washington the victory. 
💵 Winning wagers: Nationals +162, Under (9)  

⚾ Cubs 3, Indians 2 (10 innings)

Javier Baez hit a go-ahead RBI single in the 10th inning and the Cubs won their fourth straight game.
💵 Winning wagers: Cubs +102, Under (8.5)

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