Orlando, Florida, could host "multiple early-season college basketball tournaments in a bubble-type setting," according to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein.
Rothstein alluded to the NBA's setup at Walt Disney World Resort and how the successful execution of the plan has raised optimism about a similar approach for college basketball. It's unclear whether the tournaments in question would be at Disney, though.
Jon Rothstein @JonRothstein
Source: Many college basketball coaches and administrators believe that current non-conference schedules will dissolve due to COVID-19 and teams will look to play regionalized games in pods or bubbles to fulfill any hope of non-conference basketball before league play. https://t.co/rXXk7dt6Yj
This wouldn't be a big departure from how the season usually unfolds, and the proliferation of destination tournaments has only grown in recent years. The 2019-20 season saw 13 events include 84 teams.
NCAA president Mark Emmert has also advocated for using bubble-like atmospheres for NCAA championships.
The obvious question is when administrators could plausibly slot these tournaments into the calendar. CBSSports.com's Matt Norlander noted how little is actually known regarding the upcoming season:
Matt Norlander @MattNorlander
It’s Aug. 19 and only 17 (!!) D-I CBB teams have released their schedules. That’s almost 200 behind the normal pace. This is college hoops’ canary in the coal mine. Not for starting on time (that won’t happen) but maybe for having a nonconference season.https://t.co/PNVcnk556Q
The Pac-12 has already ruled out resuming its athletics until at least Jan. 1, 2021. The Big Ten canceled its fall sports but said winter and spring sports "will also continue to be evaluated" before a final decision is made.
The quagmire surrounding college football underscores how much forward planning is required to stage sporting events during a pandemic without putting athletes and personnel at a serious health risk.
It's much better to be proactive and exercise caution rather than hope things will work out.
Setting up regional bubbles for a limited number of schools is the most sensible approach for college basketball before potentially embarking on a traditional schedule. Lining up the logistics necessary to make that happen won't be easy.