On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Big West Conference announced the 2020-21 conference schedules for men’s and women’s basketball teams. Athletics events, college or otherwise, were canceled amidst the coronavirus pandemic, and the future of future athletics events was undecided for the majority of the year. Although the continuation of campus closure did cancel fall sports, winter sport fans need not fret — basketball will return during winter quarter, albeit in a modified format in order to accommodate for health and safety restrictions.
All 11 member institutions — California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; California State University (CSU), Bakersfield; CSU Fullerton; CSU Northridge; Long Beach State University; University of California (UC), Davis; UC Irvine; UCR; UC San Diego; UC Santa Barbara and the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa — will play 20 conference games in a format that will reduce travel. Instead of playing in the traditional manner, i.e., taking turns on a home-and-home schedule, teams will now play the same opponent on consecutive days at one site. The majority of games will take place Friday and Saturday, with the first tournament game beginning on Wednesday, March 10 at the Honda Center in Anaheim. 16 teams total, both men’s and women’s, will compete at the Honda Center over the course of four days, with the Big West Basketball Tournament concluding on Saturday, March 13.
Women and men’s basketball game schedules mirror one another; teams will play the same opponent on opposite venues. According to a press release by the Big West, “conference play will commence with back-to-back games” with the first game commencing on Sunday, Dec. 27 and Monday, Dec. 28. Conference competition will conclude on March 6, 2021.
In addition to the modified format of the conference, all teams will also begin the season without fans in attendance per the direction of the Big West Board of Directors. The lack of spectators will be reconsidered once the season progresses, but Big West Commissioner Dan Butterly stated that the Big West Board of Directors is ensuring that basketball competition returns in a way that is “safe and responsible.”
In the upcoming weeks, more information about tie-breaking and game management protocols, as well as a broadcast schedule will be announced. As of now, the statement by the Big West has only said that, “tie-breaking procedures shall be utilized at the end of the regular-season.”
UCR’s men’s basketball teams will begin conference play on Friday, Jan. 1, and conclude on Saturday, March 6. Women’s basketball will begin on the same date and conclude on Saturday, Feb. 27.