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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

No sport was impacted by the onset of COVID-19 more than college basketball, which saw the cancellation of March Madness. Now, we've come full circle, with details emerging about the upcoming campaign.

Where things stand: The season will begin a few weeks later than normal on Nov. 25, with the non-conference slate comprised mostly of multi-team events.

  • Tournament eligibility: Teams must play a minimum of 13 games to be NCAA tournament eligible (down from 25) and can play no more than 27.
  • Multi-team events: The Maui Invitational will be held in Asheville, North Carolina, instead of Hawaii, and eight of the 10 tournaments ESPN puts on each fall will be played at the same Disney venue currently hosting the NBA playoffs.
  • Conference play: Formatting and schedules are still undetermined for most leagues, but various options remain open, including bi-weekly "pods," where a handful of teams could gather to knock out a few games in a single weekend.
  • Ivy League and Pac-12: These two conferences previously stated they wouldn't play sports until 2021. They could still change their minds (as the Pac-12 is already considering for football), or they could play conference-only schedules starting in January.

The big picture: As with all sports conversations in 2020, the calculus must include safety measures, financial obstacles and oftentimes the intersection of the two.

  • Testing protocols: The NCAA has not released testing standards, but the expectation is they will do so soon (as opposed to leaving it up to conferences).
  • Resource disparity: Regular testing costs a lot of money, as do entry fees for bubble tournaments. This could serve to widen the gap between smaller and larger schools whose coffers were already vastly different sizes.
  • Lack of "buy games": Low- and mid-major schools can earn upwards of $600,000 per season through "buy games," in which high-majors pay them to play. But even the biggest schools are financially distressed right now, so those games could be infeasible.

What to watch: The non-conference picture will become clearer once conference schedules are released, because teams will know what dates are available. Thus far, only the MAAC has released its full schedule with actual dates.

Preseason snapshot:

  • Top 10 teams: 1. Gonzaga, 2. Baylor, 3. Villanova, 4. Illinois, 5. Iowa, 6. Wisconsin, 7. Virginia, 8. Kansas, 9. Kentucky, 10. Tennessee.
  • Top 5 upperclassmen: Luka Garza, C (Iowa, Sr.); Ayo Dosunmu, SG (Illinois, Jr.); Jared Butler, SG (Baylor, Jr.); Remy Martin, PG (ASU, Sr.); Marcus Garrett, PG (Kansas, Sr.).
  • Top 5 freshmen: Cade Cunningham, PG (Oklahoma St.); Evan Mobley, C (USC); B.J. Boston, SG (Kentucky); Ziaire Williams, SF (Stanford); Scottie Barnes, PF (FSU).

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jul 9, 2020 - Sports

College sports stare down a coronavirus-driven disaster in the fall

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Wednesday was the worst day in college sports since March 12, when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

Driving the news: The Ivy League announced that it will cancel all fall sports and will not consider resuming sports until Jan. 1, 2021 — and Stanford is permanently cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports to help offset a projected $70 million, pandemic-fueled deficit.

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.