The college basketball schedule is a bit of a mess right now

Contracts remain arranged but unsigned. Schedules look truncated and weird. The season starts Nov. 25, fate willing, and North Carolina’s schedule has three lines: that game against UNLV on Nov. 30, that game against Alabama or Stanford on Dec. 1, and that game against TBA on Dec. 2. That’s it for now.

The annual old Maui tournament has moved to Asheville, with fewer waves but sufficient hippies. The Virgin Islands tournament has moved to Washington, to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Seven-eighths of the Bahamas tournament teams have moved on clear to South Dakota, prompting a South Dakota organizer to say, “We don’t have sandy beaches in South Dakota,” but they’d manage.

ESPN’s enormous tournament batch remains in flux. In a telltale snapshot of the national moment, the reliable Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported through recent weeks that Georgetown and Virginia had withdrawn from ESPN’s Wooden Legacy tournament, that Seton Hall and Boise State would replace them, and that it would move from Anaheim to Orlando, but as of late Wednesday the tournament website boasted Georgetown, Virginia and Anaheim.

“It’s been a zoo, you know,” began Dave Paulsen, the sixth-year head coach at George Mason. Normally, schedules get done the previous March, maybe May at the latest, but “normally” left the building — all the buildings — last March when the novel coronavirus pandemic entered. Once the NCAA declared on Sept. 16 that teams could start opposing one another on Nov. 25, well …

“Pretty much every contract we had was blown up,” Paulsen said, beginning with “the four or five games scheduled prior to” that date, and then other games involving leagues refraining from nonconference entanglements, and then teams with travel issues. “Every game on our schedule was thrown out,” he said, “and so we just try to start from scratch in a very short period of time.”

Fate willing, they’ll have 18 Atlantic 10 games, but in going around arranging an additional nine for nonconference, Paulsen and staff have not gone far. They will “stay in our geographic footprint,” he said, and “minimize our chances of having a virus outbreak,” playing events such as the one that moved from the Virgin Islands to Washington for Nov. 26-28, the Paradise Jam. “The farthest I think we’re going to go will be an hour and a half from campus. We’re not getting on a plane, playing some local rivalries.”

Stop if you’ve heard this one before: Four or five Virginia-based coaches got on a Zoom, and …

“We all agreed to play each other in a neutral site kind of thing,” Paulsen said. “‘We’ll play you on Saturday.’ ‘We’ll play you other guys on Sunday.’” They “worked out two doubleheaders” as, Paulsen said, “The level of connectivity between head coaches has been greater than it’s been, because we’re all in the same boat. We’re just happy to be playing.”

In this climate, an event might not exist technically on a Tuesday, then pop up to life on a