The Pandemic’s Impact on Non-Conference Games

College basketball is officially one day away from the first tip off. Fans of college basketball should be excited . Unfortunately, as the start date approaches news breaks that a different team has to quarantine due to Covid-19. The good and bad news seems to come in twos. One day we get the much anticipated conference schedules, and on the same day we learn that UMass has to stop practice. 

In addition to quarantines, prominent figures in college basketball are calling for changes to the season. Just last week Coach Rick Pitino called for a “May Madness” tournament. The idea being that schools will need more time to complete their season. This would allow every team to compile their best possible tournament resumé, even with game postponements. 

The Best Ability is Flexibility!

Usually, availability is the best ability for teams. This year that motto has been changed. Now FLEXIBILITY is the best ability. Programs will have to live in the moment and react in real time to issues that arise.

Compiling a decent resumé is going to be a challenge this year. This is especially true for a team that is on the bubble and has had numerous game cancellations due to Covid-19. Coaches will have to make sure that their players are virus free for as long as possible. Ultimately, getting into the tournament this year will depend more on the games completed and “the eye test”, rather than strength of schedule.

Reasonable Skepticism

With all this in mind, fans should be somewhat skeptical about a non-conference season occurring. Teams traveling from different regions increases risk for potential exposure. Look no further than the issues college football has faced. It is the best example of what college basketball will encounter. 

As more Covid-19 news continues to break within college basketball, it would be prudent for fans to acknowledge that there is a high probability of non-conference cancelations. Expect to see a majority of schools reduce their non-conference schedule in some form.

Optimism is Key

While it appears that many non-conference games are in question, there is still much to be excited about. Conferences have the ability to control and implement procedures more effectively than the NCAA. The Atlantic 10 will have more control over venues, schedules, and safety producers for games.

In addition, conferences also have the ability to have greater oversight since they only have to monitor 10 to 14 teams. Compare this to the NCAA which has to monitor all 357 programs. 

In conclusion, have faith that some type of basketball will be played. After Thanksgiving many campuses will be empty. This will help schools limit teams exposure to other students and teams. Additionally, the Atlantic 10 will have more control than the NCAA in ensuring safety for teams. The formula to a successful season is out there, let us hope that the conference can act on it.


Be on the look out for more of my coverage of Saint Joseph’s/Atlantic 10 basketball as the season approaches! Like the commentary and want more? Make sure to follow me on twitter @Jelly_Morelli and check out my podcast “Tony’s Takes” on Apple iTunes and YouTube

A former D1 Athlete at Saint Joe's, Tony has earned both Undergrad and Graduate degrees from SJU. As an athlete, he was apart of a A10 team title. As ...