Start date for 2020-21 SEC basketball schedule set for late December

Jon Hale
Louisville Courier Journal
Alabama Head Coach Nate Oats yells instructions to hie team as they play Penn during the first half of Alabama's season opening game with Penn and Coach Nate Oats' first game at the helm of the Tide basketball program Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

The 2020-21 Southeastern Conference basketball schedule will start in December this season.

The league announced Friday it's 2020-21 men's basketball season will consist of 18 games and will start on Dec. 29 and 30. The 16-game women's basketball schedule will start on Dec. 31.

By moving the start date to late December, the SEC has allowed for 20 play dates to fill an 18-game schedule with two open dates. For 10 schools, one of those open dates will be filled with a game in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

The 2020-21 SEC women’s basketball conference schedule remains at 18 play dates that will fit a 16-game league schedule.

Earlier this month, the NCAA announced the men's and women's college basketball seasons will begin on Nov. 25, delaying the start of the season from the original Nov. 10 tipoff date.

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Teams must play at least 13 games in the 2020-21 season to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament and can play up to 27 regular season games, four less than a normal year. There will be no exhibitions or preseason scrimmages.

The NCAA recommended teams play at least four non-conference games.