COVID 19 making 2020-2021 college basketball different in big and small ways

Sports

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood questions a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina A&T, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Champaign, Ill. (Photo/Holly Hart)

ST. LOUIS, Mo- Wednesday marks the first day of the 2020-2021 college basketball season and, just like we’ve seen with the college football season, playing the games at all constitutes something of a miracle.

To get the games played safely, fans will notice changes. Depending on the conferences involved and where the games are played, don’t expect to see fans in attendance besides families of those involved.

Just like we saw during the NBA’s relaunch over the summer, expect benches to be spaced out. Here’s what reporter Marlee Wierda from our sister station WCIA found at the Illini home opener against North Carolina A&T.

Missouri Head Coach Cuonzo Martin told reporters Tuesday that people will have assigned seats on the bench for the entire season, although the team will still huddle up. High Fives? A no-no, he said.

Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood said Tuesday he would have preferred playing a conference-only slate this season, since all Big 10 schools are following the same protocols. That may be one reason why there was no post-game handshakes with North Carolina A&T Wednesday, following the Illini 122-60 win.

After the game, Underwood, who wore a face shield during the game, said his players were so focused on the game itself that things didn’t feel different in this “new-normal”. The coach said he’s used to seeing 15,000 screaming fans. “I miss it,” he said.

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