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Division I Council approves Nov. 25 tip-off for college basketball

CU Buffs, Pac-12 still on hiatus until Jan. 1, though that could change

McKinley Wright IV and the Colorado Buffaloes should face a competitive schedule in 2020-21. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Unlike the disjointed lead-up to the 2020 college football season, there finally is a unified plan for the opening tip-off for the 2020-21 college basketball season.

Whether the Pac-12 Conference reverses course to join the season-opening party remains to be seen.

On a wild day of NCAA news on Wednesday, the Division I Council approved of a Nov. 25 start date for the men’s and women’s basketball seasons. Given preseason practice can begin 42 days ahead of a team’s first contest, those programs that tip off on Nov. 25 can begin practice on Oct. 14.

That Nov. 25 start date still is subject to change if the COVID-19 pandemic proves too problematic. The Division I Council is set to meet again in mid-October.

Officially, the Colorado Buffaloes remained sidelined along with the rest of the Pac-12, as the league announced on Aug. 11 it was suspending all athletic competition until Jan. 1, a sweeping gesture that also shelved the first two months of the basketball season.

However, after Wednesday’s announcement that the Big Ten, which also had decided to postpone its entire fall sports slate, is now aiming for an Oct. 23 return to action, the Pac-12 is likely to follow suit to avoid being the only Power 5 conference on the sideline this fall. If that happens, expect the league to also back off its original Jan. 1 start date for basketball, particularly after commissioner Larry Scott touted the league’s partnership with Quidel Corporation, announced on Sept. 3, as a “game-changer” in the drive to get sports back in action.

So far, nothing has changed for the Pac-12, though it could by the end of the week.

For the CU men’s basketball team, a possible Nov. 25 start date to the season conceivably might not scuttle too much of the Buffs’ nonconference schedule, though it remains unclear if the Pac-12 will stick with a 20-game conference schedule. The NCAA also announced on Wednesday that teams will be allowed 27 regular season games overall — either 25 games with a two-game multi-team event, or 24 games with a three-game multi-team event.

Two of the Buffs’ biggest home dates on the nonconference slate are regional games already set for December in Colorado State and Kansas. The state of the Buffs’ multi-team event this season, the Fort Myers Tip-Off, remains in limbo, as the games were set for Nov. 23 and 25 in Florida. CU was supposed to have a home game as part of the tournament ahead of the Florida trip before taking on South Florida in the opener, followed by a game against either Wisconsin or Butler.

With the Pac-12 set to move to a 20-game schedule, the Buffs also had two Pac-12 games lined up in December for the first time. On Dec. 2, the Buffs were set to visit Arizona, with a Dec. 5 home date against Washington State. CU also is supposed to play TCU in the inaugural Pac-12 Coast to Coast Challenge in Las Vegas on Dec. 19.

The Division I Council also extended the moratorium for on-campus recruiting visits through Jan. 1.