Seventeen events were scheduled pre-Nov. CBS Sports previously revealed an initial pitch on behalf of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, in coordination with Connecticut's Mohegan Sun resort and casino, to host dozens of teams for nonconference play in November and December. Some of those matchups are proceeding as planned, with additional inventory being allowed for teams that may want or need only one or two games inside the Mohegan Sun bubble.
Connecticut is one of many destinations. Arguably just as big: other MTE organizers and leagues are in talks to figure out solutions for nonconference -- and even potentially conference games -- that could be held in a controlled environment. Las Vegas and Indianapolis pose perhaps the two most intriguing prospects.
Let's start with Vegas. Brooks Downing, who owns and operates bdG Sports, has been organizing college basketball events for well over a decade. Louisville, which is now openly inviting schools to its own proposed "bubble," is likely out. But that doesn't mean MGM's event is done. Just the opposite. See below, as Las Vegas and bdG Sports seek to build an oasis of in-the-desert November and December college basketball opportunities by enticing teams with this sales deck.
It's an ambitious undertaking, one that's gaining momentum. Vegas, which has for decades been the epicenter of grassroots and Summer League basketball in July and August, is advantageous with arenas and hotel rooms. And because of the nature of how the city makes a lot of its money, it's had to be as aggressive with its COVID protocols as almost any place in America.
Because of this, Downing not only expects to replace Louisville with a quality team -- he wouldn't be surprised to see the MTE, scheduled for the final week of November, expand. It could be as many as eight teams or 16 teams, including teams from [power conferences].
The clientele would mostly be teams from the Pacific and Mountain time zones that are in need of nonconference games, are looking for reduced travel and aren't interested in heading east. Some schools from the Midwest would also be ideal choices. Schools and organizers alike have been searching in the dark for months. Downing said as recently as a month ago he was highly uncertain college basketball would have any nonconference games.
Now he's positioning bdG to organize more games than it's ever had before in a single season. Both have eight-team fields, plus women's teams will be involved as well. Downing plans to have a nonconference bubble in that area afterward, too, with an intent on helping out mid-major teams and women's teams who will need access to the inventory. And then there's the unprecedented conference quasi-alliance in Vegas that could come in December. That's where this enterprise becomes interesting and potentially crucial for college basketball's season, because it might not be the NCAA that helps save the season; it could be the MTE organizers.
It is the NCAA's strong recommendation that every team try to play at least four nonconference games. Companies like bdG Sports and Intersport could be what makes this goal a reality. Its Fort Myers event is still on, and provided Colorado is given clearance later this week by a Pac presidents' vote, the field will remain the same with Wisconsin, Butler and South Florida.
There is still ongoing discussions about how to flex that tournament format if need be or if it should be expanded. This week is supposed to provide a lot more clarity. Organizers and coaches alike are waiting on leagues to decide scheduling philosophies. The Pac vote, anticipated for Thursday, is also slowing the process. That brings us to Indianapolis, a city synonymous with big-time NCAA events and potentially the most robust bubble-type situation college basketball could see this season.
Intersport won't go it alone. It is teaming up with well-known MTE organizer Russ Potts and Indiana Sports Corp to put on a significant nonconference event with multiple windows that would in theory include teams from major and mid-major conferences. Indiana Sports Corp is dealing with conferences, while Starsiak and Potts are in discussions with dozens of teams, having reached out to nearly 70 already.
The radius for Indianapolis is rich: there are approximately 60 Division I programs within miles or: a five-hour drive. Not getting on a plane is a selling point. So is the fact that Indianapolis has no relocation situation with the primary host company. Indiana Sports Corp is based there, has access and relationships with most of all the proper people and industries to pull off college basketball games and knows how to handle this from and on-the-ground level.
Right below here, their pitch. The agreement in place to use the Indiana Convention Center is big. With Indianapolis, there are multiple windows, including ones that go deep into conference season, allowing leagues to bring their games to Indy if it's feasible. What this triumvirate is promising is the safest, most practical environment possible -- with games being held in the Convention Center. Plus now Pac and Big 12 schools that could come to Las Vegas in different waves within our bubble.
Fans can register to receive event alerts by registering online at cbssportsclassic. Both locations are to be determined. Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz says both sides mutually agreed to not play this season due to the coronavirus and will come back for the season, where the Cats will play at Louisville. Louisville women's coach Jeff Walz said both sides agreed to not play the Louisville-Kentucky game because of the lack of dates available and the potential of no fans in the stands.
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