Eli Boettger | @boettger_eli | 08/30/20
With the very first college football game of the 2020 season behind us, college basketball season (or the hope of one) is right around the corner.
How the season gets underway, however, is the big question.
With recent successes for the NBA, WNBA and NHL in closed, bubble environments, college basketball’s leaders are assessing potential bubble options for the fall.
Here are cities that have been reportedly tied to potential college basketball bubbles:
College sports event operator Rhossi Carron has pitched a proposal to more than 70 D-I college basketball teams about a Houston bubble. The field would include a total of 20 teams split into two fields, with each team playing eight games and one scrimmage.
Disney’s Orlando campus is a heavily rumored possibility for college basketball bubbles this fall. ESPN, which is owned by Disney, sponsors most of the early-season tournaments, such as the Maui Invitational. A number of these tournaments could be relocated to the Disney campus.
Rock Hill, S.C.
Winthrop’s campus in Rock Hill, S.C. is another possible bubble location. The Eagles hosted Hampton in the Big South championship in March, and the campus is just under 30 miles south of Charlotte, N.C., which could provide additional arena and hotel options.
Uncasville, Conn. is the annual home of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The Mohegan Sun resort and casino is one of the largest in the country and could follow a similar pathway towards a basketball bubble as Disney’s Orlando campus. “They believe they can arrange things so players can move from hotel rooms to arena, meeting places, a practice court in convention center without ever moving into public areas,” Hartford Courant’s Dom Amore reported.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Sioux Falls has also emerged as a bubble candidate. The Summit League plays its conference tournament in the Denny Sanford Premier Center, which is connected to Sioux Falls Arena and Sioux Falls Convention Center, and is just three miles away from the Sanford Pentagon. That’s four potential basketball venues in a confined area right next to the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
Without having the logistical hurdle of football, the Big East is already discussing the possibilities of a conference bubble. “You could bring all 11 (Big East) teams to Omaha,” Creighton AD Bruce Rasmussen told Omaha.com. “Within a couple blocks of the CHI Health Center, you have the Hilton, which has 600 some rooms. A new Marriott with 300 some rooms.”
Other locations to monitor:
Des Moines, Iowa — Drake AD Brian Hardin already discussed the possibility of turning Des Moines into a basketball bubble. “I look at it and there’s 20 or so schools that are within a five, five-and-a-half hour drive of Des Moines,” Hardin said.
Las Vegas, Nev. — Tons of hotels and basketball venues make Vegas a top-tier bubble option. The city is already home to several conference tournaments, which assumes a bubble-esque environment.
Portland, Ore. — The site of the best preseason tournament field in recent memory — the 2017 Phil Knight Invitational — has already proved it can pull off a bubble. Portland is equipped with the Blazers’ Moda Center, Portland State’s Viking Pavilion, Portland’s Chile Center and the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
San Jose, Calif. — California has no shortage of D-I basketball teams, and a Bay Area bubble would make plenty of sense. San Jose State’s Event Center, Santa Clara’s Leavey Center and San Jose Sharks’ SAP Center are all within five miles of each other with plenty of lodging nearby.
Newark, N.J. — New Jersey is home to several D-I teams in Seton Hall, Rutgers, NJIT, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Princeton, Rider and St. Peter’s. The list provides a handful of different venues in a concentrated area.
Brooklyn, N.Y. — With tons of basketball venues and hotels in the surrounding area, Brooklyn could be a formidable bubble host. Brooklyn is currently set to host the NIT Season Tip-Off and Roman Legends Classic in late November.
Eli Boettger is a college basketball writer and founder of HeatCheckCBB.com. He has previously worked for Sporting News, DAZN and USA TODAY SMG.
Boettger’s content has been featured by Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, FiveThirtyEight, Yahoo Sports, Athletic Director University, Washington Post, Illinois Law Review and Notre Dame Law Review, among other publications. Boettger is also a current USBWA member and Rockin’ 25 voter.