CARBONDALE — Hoping to get as many games in as possible amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the Missouri Valley Conference Presidents Council voted Friday to schedule its league's men's and women's teams in two-game series beginning after Christmas.
The men's and women's basketball teams in the Valley will now play four road series and four home series between Dec. 26, 2020, and early March 2021. The series will be two games, held on back-to-back days, at one site. The teams' respective travel partners (SIU's is Missouri State) will play a home-and-home series like usual, but on two separate dates. Meaning, the Salukis will play once at Missouri State and once at the Banterra Center against the Bears, but not on successive days.
The Valley plans to announce the full schedule, again, sometime in December. SIU's men's basketball team is scheduled to open the conference season at home against Bradley, the two-time defending champion of the MVC Tournament, Dec. 31. The Salukis now may have to open against the Braves on back-to-back days, Dec. 31 and New Year's Day 2021, but, possibly, could get both games at the Banterra Center.
It is not clear if the Valley will start the series at the original sites. The MVC still intends for each of its teams to play a full 18-game league schedule, according to its news release Friday.
The SIU women are scheduled to open the conference season at Indiana State Jan. 1, 2021, and then play at Evansville two days later, as they normally do. Unlike the men, the women schedule weekend series against two opponents located closely together, about every Friday and Sunday during the league season. They play one team, their so-called travel partner, on a different day during the week. Now the MVC may have the Salukis play two games in two days at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Indiana, against the Sycamores under the new schedule.
The Presidents Council also acknowledged in the news release from the Valley that athletically-related activities will take place only to the extent permitted by local environments and applicable national, state, local and institutional guidelines.
The results of conference play will still determine for the men's and women's basketball tournaments in St. Louis (March 4-7, 2021) and Moline (March 11-14), respectively. Additional announcements about television schedules will come in early December.
The MVC also announced it will use KINEXON SafeZone technology to enhance its basketball teams' ability to contact trace in the event a player, coach or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. The technology uses lightweight, wearable devices called SafeTags, which will be used during practices and games, and can calculate the proximity between individuals by distance and length of time. Officials will also use the devices during conference games.
SIU's women's basketball team is scheduled to open the season Wednesday, Nov. 25, at home against Eastern Michigan. Tipoff at the Banterra Center is scheduled for 1 p.m., and the game is scheduled to air on 95.1 FM and either ESPN3 or ESPN+. No fans will be allowed at the men's or women's games at SIU for the forseeable future.
On Twitter: @THefferman
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