University of Maine director of athletics Ken Ralph is optimistic that the school’s basketball teams will be able to open their seasons next week in tournaments at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
College Basketball Bubbleville is scheduled to include 45 games between 40 men’s and women’s basketball teams over an 11-day span from Nov. 25-Dec. 5.
“We’re still waiting for some final things [for the Mohegan Sun trips] but everything is tracking in a direction we feel very comfortable with,” Ralph said.
The UMaine men, 9-22 last season, are slated to play Atlantic Coast Conference preseason favorite Virginia, the No. 4 four team in the country and the 2019 national champion, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and play Central Connecticut State at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27.
The UMaine women, 18-14 last season, face No. 6 Mississippi State at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28, in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Women’s Basketball Challenge Tournament.
On Nov. 29, they will play either perennial national power Connecticut or Quinnipiac.
UMaine announced Wednesday that even though the men’s hockey team had its season-opening home series against Massachusetts postponed, the women’s hockey team got the go-ahead to travel to Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, for a season-opening, two-game set.
The men’s hockey team was given the green light to play a series Nov. 28-29 at UConn.
Teams involved in Bubbleville will be assigned their own hotel floors, dining and meeting areas. The facility is already set up for COVID-19 testing protocols and disinfecting. A medical staff will be on hand to treat or isolate anyone who contracts the coronavirus.
Mississippi State is 131-16 over the last four seasons and was the national runner-up in 2017 and 2018. The Rebels return three of their five starters and the top two scorers off last year’s 27-6 team.
UConn (29-3 last season) won four consecutive NCAA championships from 2013-2016 before being upset by Mississippi State 66-64 in overtime in the 2017 semifinals. Quinnipiac was 15-14 but had won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title the previous three years.
On the men’s side, Virginia was 23-7 last season but had won its final eight games before the season was canceled because of the coronavirus. The Cavaliers were picked to win the ACC this season for the first time since 1982. They have two preseason All-ACC players.
Central Connecticut was 4-27 last season.