Syracuse, N.Y. ― The 2020-21 schedule for the Syracuse University men’s basketball team was done back in April.
The 20 ACC games plus 11 non-conference games, including a trip to Madison Square Garden to play LSU in the Gotham Classic.
On Wednesday, the NCAA’s Division I Council announced that the start of the 2020-21 season would be moved from Nov. 10 back to Nov. 25 to help schools reduce the risk of COVID-19 among its athletes and staff.
As a result, as of today, Syracuse’s schedule is blank.
“Right now we have zero games,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Thursday morning. “The schedule was all done. It’s been done since March or April. Now, we have to re-schedule everything and figure out who plays when.”
In addition to moving back the season’s start date, the NCAA Division Council also reduced the number of games that teams can play from 31 to 27 if the team is in a multi-team event such as the Gotham Classic. If a team isn’t playing in such an event, the maximum number of games is 25.
Boeheim said it would have been easier for scheduling purposes and just as manageable in terms of the coronavirus to start the season on Nov. 10.
“All of our practices are with students here and the games aren’t going to be attended, so what’s the difference?” Boeheim said. “The players and students will have been here for three months, so what difference does two weeks make?”
But Boeheim said it’s good to finally have a definitive timeline for the start of the season, as well as practices, which can begin in full on Oct. 10.
“We do have a definite date,” he said, “and now we have to reschedule everything.”
Syracuse was slated to open up the regular season with a home game against Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) on Nov. 10. Other games against Wisconsin-Green Bay (Dec. 8), Jacksonville State (Dec. 10) and Mercer (Dec. 13) had also been announced. Those games were all part of the Gotham Classic.
Boeheim said those games are unlikely to be on the Orange’s schedule when it is put back together.
“The dates would have to be changed,” he said. “And we might not be able to play some of these teams because they’re flying here from a state that’s on quarantine.
“I think it’s unlikely we can play in (the Gotham Classic) as it stands right now.”
Boeheim said because of New York state’s strict rules regarding travel to or from other states with high coronavirus rates, Syracuse has to be circumspect in which schools it tries to get on its schedule.
“There’s a very strong possibility that you might have to play schools that are close and New York state schools that can bus here and aren’t on quarantine,” Boeheim said.
And there’s the issue of testing. Boeheim said the school will demand that all of SU’s opponents will have the same level of testing as the Orange.
“Somebody in December might not be testing enough,” Boeheim said. “Everybody is going to have to commit to testing three times a week, which is expensive right now. It might be more reasonable by November or December, but we have to plan for now.”
Last year, the ACC expanded its regular season schedule to 20 conference games. Boeheim said the plan is to stay at 20 games this season. He said he hasn’t considered playing conference games only.
As with last season, Syracuse will likely play “at least a couple” ACC games before Christmas this year, according to Boeheim.
The ultimate goal for the NCAA is to get through the regular season and get to March. After the cancellation of last year’s NCAA tournament, it is financially imperative that college basketball get back to the Big Dance at the end of this season.
Boeheim said he was confident that it will be done.
“100 percent,” he said. “Every golf tournament, every tennis tournament, every NBA game, everything is being played.
“People have to be careful; if they’re not that’ll be a problem. There’s going to be some interruptions. It’s a long ways away, but there will be some type of arrangement made to play the tournament.”
MORE ORANGE BASKETBALL
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.