With conference play beginning this week (supposedly), the Pac-12 on Tuesday unveiled the health and safety protocols that will provide the framework for men’s and women’s basketball.
They’re similar to those governing the football season:
— Daily point-of-care testing on each day of full practice, higher-risk of transmission activity, travel, and games;
— Minimum once weekly PCR test (in addition to daily point-of-care testing);
— Any positive daily point-of-care antigen test must be followed by a PCR test within 24 hours;
— Game day air ambulance service will be available in case any individual tests positive while traveling for competition;
— For non-Conference opponents, a minimum of four tests the week leading up to competition, including on game day;
As to the threshold for cancellations, teams must have at least seven scholarship players and one full-time coach available.
Otherwise, games are subject to being declared no contests.
(For more on the steps taken to navigate the season, see our report from last week.)
While the similarities to the football protocols might not inspire confidence — the Pac-12 has canceled more football games than its peers on a per-week basis — adoption of rigorous testing and mitigation measures is:
1. The only way the presidents and chancellors will approve competition
2. The only way local health authorities will approve competition
3. The right thing to do for the players, coaches and officials
4. Only half the calculation
The other half is unfolding at the top — and in an encouraging manner for college sports.
On Tuesday, the government officials confirmed that the CDC will reduce the two-week quarantine period to 10 days — and, crucially, to only seven days with a negative test.
Instead of players who are considered close contacts missing two weeks of play, they will only miss one week after testing negative.
It’s not difficult to envision college basketball experiencing significant disruption — and perhaps a pause — over the next four-to-six weeks, then settling into a workable situation.
Yes, the postseason could be delayed; we might have May Madness. But the CDC change creates a wider path to completing the season.
To the power ratings …
1. Arizona State (2-1)
Result: beat Rhode Island 94-88, lost to Villanova 83-74, beat Houston-Baptist 100-77
Next up: at Cal (Thursday)
Comment: Villanova raised the question the Sun Devils must answer: Can they beat elite teams when Remy Martin isn’t Remy Martin?
2. Oregon (0-0)
Next up: vs. Missouri (today)
Comment: Ducks had to postpone their opener against Eastern Washington, then arranged a date with the Tigers at the last minute, which is becoming standard operating procedure for everyone.
3. Stanford (1-1)
Result: beat Alabama 82-64, lost to North Carolina 67-63
Next up: vs. Indiana (today)
Comment: The loss isn’t a problem for the Cardinal or the Pac-12, unless UNC finishes in the middle of the ACC.
4. UCLA (1-1)
Result: lost to San Diego State 73-58, beat Pepperdine 107-98 (3OT)
Next up: vs. Seattle (Thursday)
Comment: Take it away, Mick … “What happened for us is when things don’t go our way on offense,” Cronin said after the loss to SDSU, “we pout on defense and that’s the No. 1 trait of a losing team.”
5. Utah (0-0)
Next up: vs. Washington (Thursday)
Comment: We read that the Utes were able to continue practicing shorthanded even though nine players tested positive. The circumstances are important, and there was no sign of transmission during team activities — it’s all outlined here — but the Hotline chuckled at the prospect of that happening in California.
6. USC (3-0)
Result: beat California Baptist 95-87, Montana 76-62 and BYU 79-53
Next up: vs. Connecticut (Thursday)
Comment: Freshman Evan Mobley is averaging 16.3 points and nine rebounds. What a disappointment for those of us expecting 20/20s.
7. Colorado (2-0)
Result: beat South Dakota 84-61 and Kansas State 76-58
Next up: vs. Washington State (Saturday)
Comment: Buffs were supposed to open conference play today against Arizona but had to postpone because of COVID issues within the program.
8. Arizona (1-0)
Result: beat Grambling 74-55
Next up: vs. Northern Colorado (Saturday)
Comment: Wildcats lead the conference in one category: DNPs. Three games have been canceled or postponed.
Pac-12 midseason report: Oregon State, Colorado and Washington take home our top awards
Pac-12 power ratings: Washington slides into second, Oregon State climbs (plus bowl cancellation news)
Pac-12 football: USC’s positive cases, and testing trouble, a lesson for other programs
My AP top-25 basketball ballot: Villanova loss makes room for Gonzaga at the top
Pac-12 rewind: Week Four loaded with upsets, comebacks and fabulous finishes
9. Oregon State (2-0)
Result: beat Cal 71-63 and Northwest 114-42
Next up: at Washington State (today)
Comment: The Cal win didn’t count in the conference standings. The result against WSU will.
10. Washington State (2-0)
Result: beat Texas Southern 56-52 and Eastern Washington 71-68
Next up: vs. Oregon State (today)
Comment: Encouraging sign for the Cougars: They beat EWU even though Isaac Bonton was 3-of-16 from the field.
11. Cal (2-1)
Result: lost to Oregon State 71-63, beat Northwest 86-61, beat Nicholls St. 60-49
Next up: vs. Arizona State (Thursday)
Comment: Not sure any team has a tougher start to conference play: Bears open with ASU, then head to UCLA and start back up after Christmas with a trip to Oregon.
12. Washington (0-2)
Result: Lost to Baylor 86-52 and UC Riverside 57-42
Next up: at Utah (Thursday)
Comment: Result against UCR could drag down the entire Pac-12.
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