Teams should jump at chance to play in Louisville basketball bubble.
After I argued for them in football, Louisville basketball could be setting the tone for college basketball bubbles.
With uncertainty across every sports landscape, college basketball teams everywhere are scrambling to reshuffle schedules.
We all know about the Coach K-led idea to put every team in America in the NCAA tournament. But what if we can avoid that altogether and, instead, make college bubble scenarios happen.
That’s exactly what it appears Louisville basketball is looking to do after head coach Chris Mack and some around the program tweeted out information about a potential Louisville bubble scenario.
In Mack and Louisville’s proposed bubble scenario, the Cardinals would host 8 to 12 non-conference teams starting November 25th- the first day college basketball play is set to begin.
No distanced learning
The thing that stands out immediately in this scenario is that teams wouldn’t have to deal with distanced learning, and it’s unlikely that players would have to do any online classes during this time.
November 25th is the day before Thanksgiving, and this scenario would have teams traveling to Louisville in the days leading up to Thanksgiving break and staying until the Saturday following Thanksgiving weekend.
That’s important because most schools are moving to an extended winter break period that would start the week of Thanksgiving and last until the end of the 2020 calendar year.
In Louisville’s scenario, the university has already moved finals week (the week after Thanksgiving) to online classes. At the very most, players would only have to take a few online tests while in a bubble scenario.
The perfect infrastructure
No college is better suited to create a bubble type of scenario for a dozen teams than Louisville.
The Cardinals home arena, The KFC Yum! center, has played host to NCAA tournament first and second round games as well as NCAA tournament regional finals games. These events require a lot of nearby hotel space, on-site practice courts, and extra locker rooms.
The Yum! Center boasts four state of the art locker rooms, an excellent practice court and training area, and thousands of hotel rooms within a short walk.
The most plausible scenario to create a true “bubble” feel would be for Louisville basketball to utilize the Galt House hotel. With over 1,300 rooms, an East and west tower, 150,000 square feet of meeting space, two massive ballrooms, and six restaurants, there is more than enough room to accommodate.
The best part about Kentucky’s largest hotel is that is directly next door to the arena, and connected to the arena via skywalk.
Directly adjacent to the Galt House and the arena is the Kentucky International Convention Center. With over 300,000 square feet of event space, and also directly connected to the Galt House and Yum! Center, the KICC is the perfect secondary location for the tournament.
In theory, every game could be played in the arena. However, the KICC played host to the 2002 OVC Conference Tournament, five straight DII NCAA Tournaments, and was an occasional host for a Louisville basketball’s women’s teams in the past. The KICC can be configured to hold around 7,000 patrons to view a basketball game.
However, Louisville could instead use this space as an area where teams and players can meet, interact, and enjoy day-to-day activities.
We’ve seen in the NBA bubble where players have been getting into recreational sports, hanging out, playing golf or pickle ball, and making the most of their time in isolation. Louisville could set up a similar event space for players and teams to socialize and enjoy a sense of normalcy while in a bubble scenario for two weeks.
Given the uncertainty surrounding college basketball and college sports as a whole, Louisville basketball’s bubble scenario would be too perfect of an opportunity to pass up.