Jay Bilas is one of the most prominent voices in the college basketball world. He’s also an constant outspoken critic of the NCAA, and he has significant concerns for this coming season, including the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
While most of the attention is currently on college football, college hoops is not far behind it. The season usually begins in November, with practices and exhibitions getting underway in October. So far, we haven’t heard much about plans for that sport, even with non-conference tournaments across the country a norm for early-season play.
There is also no guarantee that we’re out of this mess by March, when the NCAA Tournament rolls around. Hopefully we’ve come up with a solution by then, whether its a vaccine or other treatment, but if not, March Madness will be a real challenge. The tournament usually has teams traveling across the country, with teams that reach the Final Four playing in three different locations in three weeks.
It is no surprise that Bilas has some thoughts on how this may play out. He has been raising concerns about the NCAA’s overall approach in recent days, especially as Major League Baseball deals with a major crisis within the Miami Marlins franchise, which had an outbreak just days into the season. On ACC Network’s Packer & Durham today, he brought up the NCAA Tournament specifically.
This is a pivotal moment for college sports. What is the NCAA’s plan? What risk is acceptable, and to whom? What are their health experts telling them? These institutions are publicly funded and a public trust. That information should be shared. https://t.co/PrQoGfJ6DM
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) July 27, 2020
“If there’s any way to play and (specifically) play the tournament, the NCAA needs to be proactive and have contingency plans in place,” Bilas said, via 247Sports. “When the issue is community spread of COVID, playing the tournament in a conventional fashion might be improbable as well as impossible.”
Jay Bilas is frustrated by the lack of information coming from those in power within college sports. He thinks that the public is owed more insight on the process than we’re getting.
“How much risk are we willing to take and on whom are we placing that risk? Do players get a say? What are we going to do if a team tests positive? Guidelines aren’t good enough. The public needs to be let in on this. I think they owe a little bit more here. Regional minds can disagree on that, but I think they owe. I’m surprised we haven’t heard more from the medical experts who are at the fingertips of the NCAA. That could be coordinated through the NCAA while these decisions are being made.”
The NCAA Tournament generally features 68 teams, and the current layout seems to lend to some flexibility, if it can move forward. Reducing the number of teams that make it could be an option. Seeding college basketball teams more regionally than they are now, and centralizing entire regions at one spot over the first two weekends, in NBA-like bubbles, seems potentially workable. The NCAA should start working on this now, and not waiting until a month out while we hope for a vaccine, though.