Nov. 25 (UPI) — More than 200 Division I men’s and women’s college basketball games are planned for Wednesday to tip off the 2020-2021 season, with thousands of athletes on courts around the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But not all games will go on.
The pandemic has impacted this year’s schedule, with games originally planned to start Nov. 10, but then delayed until Wednesday.
Dozens of men’s and women’s games and tournaments have been canceled or postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests for players and coaches at different programs.
Baylor, ranked No. 1 in the men’s basketball coaches poll, and No. 8 Duke are among the top teams that won’t take the floor Wednesday due to positive tests.
No. 3 Villanova, No. 4 Virginia, No. 6 Iowa, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 9 Kentucky and No. 10 Illinois will start their seasons Wednesday. No. 2 Gonzaga will battle No. 5 Kansas on Thursday in their season opener.
Many college basketball programs will not allow fans to attend games this season as a coronavirus safety precaution, while other programs plan limited capacities.
Villanova, Gonzaga, Baylor and Iowa are among the favorites to win the 2021 men’s title on most sports betting websites. Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, Duke, Illinois and Wisconsin also are among the programs expected to contend.
Wednesday’s games will air on ESPN platforms, FS1, FS2, CBSN, and a variety of conference-owned networks.
East Tennessee State will take on Abilene Christian in the first men’s matchup of the day, at 11 a.m. EST. The first broadcast matchup will features Florida College against South Florida and air at 11:30 a.m. EST on ESPN+.
UCLA will battle San Diego State in the final men’s game at 10:30 p.m. EST Wednesday on CBSSN.
The University of Connecticut — one of the most successful women’s basketball programs in history — paused its season Monday and postponed its first four games after a positive COVID-19 test emerged from within the team.
Despite UConn’s absence from a wealth of women’s season openers, plenty of other top programs fill Wednesday’s schedule.
No. 1 South Carolina will host Charleston in the first televised game of the women’s season. That game has a noon EST tip off and will air on the SEC Network. No. 2 Stanford will battle Cal Poly at 2 p.m. EST, but that game won’t be televised nationally.
No. 4 Baylor will take on Central Arkansas at 8 p.m. on ESPN+. No. 5 Louisville — which had their initial season opener canceled — will take on Southeast Missouri State in a late-scheduled game at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN+.
March Madness plans include single sites
Virginia and Baylor won the most recent men’s and women’s Division I basketball titles, respectively, but weren’t able to defend those titles because the 2020 tournament was canceled.
NCAA officials announced in mid-November that they are in “preliminary talks” with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis to host the annual 68-team men’s tournament in March and April.
The NCAA typically conducts the tournament at 13 preliminary-round sites throughout the United States, but plans to hold the 2021 tournament in one geographic area as a safety precaution amid the pandemic.
The women’s basketball committee said in mid-November that it “intends to maintain a field of 64 teams” for its annual tournament. The committee also said it has a variety of contingency plans, which includes the reduction of first- and second-round sites or having the tournament in one location.
Men’s season openers — all times Eastern
Florida College at South Florida at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN+
McNeese at Nebraska at noon on Big Ten Network
Radford at Virginia Tech at noon on ACC Network Alternate
North Carolina A&T at Illinois at 2 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Illinois State at Ohio State at 2 p.m. on ESPN
Memphis at Saint Mary’s at 2 p.m. on ESPN2
Drake at Kansas State at 2 p.m. on ESPNU
Lamar at Houston at 3 p.m. on ESPN+
North Carolina Central at Iowa at 4 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Bowling Green at Michigan at 4 p.m. on ESPN2
Delaware State at Wake Forest at 4 p.m. on ACC Network Alternate
Oklahoma State at UT Arlington at 4 p.m. on ESPN
Morehead State at Kentucky at 6 p.m. on SEC Network
Eastern Michigan at Michigan State at 6 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Liberty vs. Purdue at 6 p.m. on CBSSN
Coker at South Carolina at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Northwestern State at Texas Tech at 7 p.m. on ESPN+
Arizona State vs. Rhode Island at 7 p.m. on ESPN
St. Francis at Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on ACC Network Alternate
High Point at Davidson at 7 p.m. on ESPN+
Florida A&M at Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. on ESPN+
Oral Roberts at Missouri at 7 p.m. on SEC Network
Saint Peter’s at St. John’s at 7 p.m. on FS2
SIU Edwardsville at Saint Louis at 7 p.m. on ESPN+
Mississippi Valley State at Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network
Charleston Southern at NC State at 8 p.m. on ACC Network
Tennessee Tech at Indiana at 8 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Jacksonville State at Alabama at 8 p.m. on SEC Network
Central Connecticut at UConn at 8 p.m. on FS1
Villanova vs. Boston College at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
VCU vs. Utah State at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Eastern Illinois at Wisconsin at 10 p.m. on Big Ten Network
UCLA at San Diego State at 10:30 p.m. on CBSSN
Women’s season openers — all times Eastern
Charleston at South Carolina at noon on SEC Network
Oral Roberts at Arkansas at noon on SEC Network
Murray State at Kentucky at 1 p.m. on SEC Network
Lamar at Texas A&M at 1 p.m. on SEC Network
Omaha at Iowa State at 1 p.m. on ESPN+
Samford at Alabama at 1 p.m. on SEC Network
Jacksonville at Miami at 1 p.m. on ACC Network Alternate
Radford at North Carolina at 1 p.m. on ACC Network Alternate
Grambling at Florida at 1 p.m. on SEC Network
Xavier at Detroit Mercy at 2 p.m. on ESPN3
SMU at Texas at 2 p.m. on Longhorn Network
Louisville vs. Southeast Missouri State at 3 p.m. on ESPN+