.College basketball fans were denied the opportunity to see a national champion crowned in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that took the country by storm in the middle of March. It could not have been worse timing for programs eyeing a postseason run, including the Big Ten champion Maryland Terrapins.
Those schools will have to settle for their regular season success while looking ahead to the upcoming, coronavirus-affected season. It's unclear how exactly the NCAA plans to play out a season given the logistical nightmare of scheduling during a pandemic.
The NBA utilized a bubble, but college programs are more limited than professional organizations. Plenty of preseason tournaments have already been canceled, and many fans are resigned to a truncated season.
Even if the season is starting late, fans will be okay as long as they get March Madness in 2021.
College basketball season start date
The 2020-21 college basketball season is scheduled to tip off on Wednesday, November 25, a few weeks later than its usual start date in the second week of November.
The Maui Invitational is scheduled to begin on November 30.
The Champions Classic is scheduled for December 1.
The Big 10-ACC Challenge is scheduled for December 8 and December 9.
The Big 10 is scheduled to begin conference play on December 13.
The ACC is scheduled to begin conference play on December 12.
The Big 12 is scheduled to begin conference play on December 13.
The Pac 12 is scheduled to begin conference play on December 2.
The Big East is scheduled to begin conference play on December 11.
The SEC is scheduled to begin conference play on December 29.
The 2021 NCAA Tournament is scheduled to begin on March 16 after Selection Sunday on March 14.
The Gavitt Games (Big 10-Big East challenge) has been canceled for the 2020-21 season.
The DMV is blessed with several quality college basketball programs, with three standing out historically. How are the big names in the region expected to perform in the 2020-21 season?
Maryland had big expectations for the 2019-20 season, and they just about lived up to them. They finished the season as co-champions of a very strong Big Ten conference and were primed for a top two or three seed in the NCAA tournament and a deep March run.
They lost point guard Anthony Cowan and center Jalen Smith in the offseason, two of the top eight players in the entire conference, and never fully replaced them. Their core of experienced wings gives them a higher floor than most expect, but the ceiling is much lower for this roster. Making the NCAA tournament will be considered a successful year for Mark Turgeon's crew.
Georgetown went through a turbulent 2019-20 season full of unexpected, high-profile transfers and poorly-timed injuries. There's some talent on the roster, and the backcourt projects to be solid. The frontcourt is very raw, however, so Patrick Ewing will have to put forth a strong coaching effort to develop his team throughout the course of the season.
Virginia will always be projected for at or near the top of the vaunted ACC as long as Tony Bennett is in town, especially when his teams have continuity.
This year, he brings back three of his top-five scorers while adding one of the top recruiting classes in the conference. The team went through an inconsistent season coming off their national title, but the current roster still has multiple guys who know what it takes to win in March. Expect to see this team excel in the regular season and find themselves ranked highly all year long.