Written by Andrew Riddle
The 2020-2021 NCAA men’s basketball season officially started on November 25 as several top 25 teams kicked off their seasons. However, due to the pandemic several teams were forced to postpone or cancel their season openers, and the teams that did play were playing with little to no in person fans. Although this year has been anything but normal, especially for athletes, the beginning of the college basketball season has brought a sense of normalcy to fans watching from their homes. As usual, the first few games of the season feature most top 25 teams playing sub-par opponents and very few top 25 matchups. However, the few top 25 match-ups have not disappointed.
In arguably the most entertaining game of the year so far, North Carolina (14th in NCAA) played Texas (17th in NCAA) in the Maui Tournament Championship. The two ranked opponents battled back and forth all game until the game was tied at 67 with about 7 seconds left. Texas Longhorn Matt Coleman had the ball in his hands as time was winding down. He drove to the right elbow for a pull-up jump shot. The ball bounced up off the front rim and off the backboard and into the net with 0.1 seconds remaining. The Longhorns won the game 69-67. In another classic match-up between two collegiate powerhouses, the Duke Blue Devils played the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans came out of the hard-fought game victorious, with a 75-69 win.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been playing phenomenal basketball to start the year. Coming into the season ranked at number one, the Zags have been showing the nation why they are the best with a twelve-point win over Kansas (6th in NCAA), and a five-point win over West Virginia (11th in NCAA).
The pandemic has already had a big effect on the season already. The most highly anticipated matchup of the early part of the year was canceled just a few hours before tip-off. Number one ranked Gonzaga was to play number two ranked Baylor. The teams agreed to cancel the blockbuster matchup due to positive Covid-19 cases. As the NCAA looks to rebound from a disappointing end to last season when they were forced to cancel March Madness, they are working tirelessly to ensure the classic NCAA March Madness Tournament. The athletes, coaches, and athletic directors all over the country have been doing everything in their power to have a complete season even amid this global pandemic.