NCAA basketball season has begun, but this season will look a little different


This NCAA basketball season will be the first in many years without COVID protocols. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Katie Dikes

After two basketball seasons full of quarantining, masks, social distancing, and COVID-19 testing, not only is this year expected to be a “normal season” but one of the best seasons of college basketball yet as teams will truly unleash their talent and abilities on and off the court without having to worry about the high threat of COVID-19. 

Preseason rankings for NCAA Men had the defending national champions, the North Carolina Tar Heels, ranked at #1, followed by Gonzaga at #2, Houston at #3, Kentucky at #4 and Kansas at #5. To see all the preseason rankings, click here

To see the mens’ current rankings, click here.

Preseason rankings for NCAA Women also had the defending national champions, the South Carolina Gamecocks, ranked at #1 followed by Stanford at #2, Texas at #3, Iowa at #4 and Tennessee at #5. Louisville is also expected to have a great season after reaching the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. They are ranked at #7. To see all preseason rankings, click here.

To see the current womens’ rankings, click here

March Madness will be here in no time; and speaking of tournaments, the NCAA has already released the schedule for both the men’s and women’s tournaments for this season:


Selection Sunday will take place on March 12, which is when the full bracket for the 68-team NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be released. The First Four takes place on March 14 and 15. The First Round of the tournament officially begins on March 16 and 17. The Second Round commences on March 18 and 19. A few days later, the Sweet 16 begins, on the 23 and 24. The Elite Eight then follows on March 25 and 26. The Final Four takes place on April 1 and then the championship game occurs on April 3. To see the full schedule and event dates and times, click here


Selection Sunday also takes place on March 12, like the men. The First Four takes place on March 15 and 16. The First Round officially begins on March 17 and 18, followed by the Second Round on March 19 and 20. The Sweet 16 begins on the 24 and 25, with the Elite 8 on the 26 and 27. The Final Four takes place on March 31 and the championship game on April 2. To see the full schedule and event dates and times, click here.

As far as local basketball news goes, former Kentucky basketball assistant coach and associate head coach, Kenny Payne, was named the head coach of the Louisville men’s basketball team on March 18 of this year. Coming back to Louisville from the New York Knicks as an assistant coach, Payne was welcomed with open arms. During a preseason dedication ceremony, Payne said his role as the new head coach was “a big responsibility, but it’s a responsibility that [he] welcome[s]” saying he is really “excited about it.” 

Louisville’s basketball season kicked off last Wednesday against the Bellarmine Knights. In a stunning season opener, Louisville lost 66-67. Payne later said of his team after the game”I’m asking them to change, to do things that are uncomfortable for them right now. And that’s why I say we win or we learn. Today is a hard lesson to learn.” Payne and his team may have other hard lessons to learn as they face top-ranked teams such as North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke and Virginia later in their season. The Cardinals lost on November 12 against the Wright State Warriors 72-73. 

The Louisville women’s basketball team, on the other hand, defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats in their season opener at home on November 7, 87-68. While the Cardinals handily won their game, head coach Jeff Walz said the team still needs to work on executing small components, but he said he was “pleased for the most part.” The Lady Cardinals also beat the IUPUI Jaguars, 84-62 on November 10 and also beat the Belmont Bruins, 75-70 on November 13.

Both the Kentucky men and women’s basketball teams won their season openers, facing their opponents at home. The women beat Radford 82-78 on November 7 and the men beat Howard 95-63 on November 7 as well. 

Though Forward Oscar Tshiebwe and Guard Sahvir Wheeler did not play in the game, mens’ Head Coach John Calipari said that he was happy with the hustle his team showed. He later remarked in a postgame press conference that “[the team] is a unique and special group. And they’re competing for minutes, but they’re cheering for each other.” Kentucky went on to beat the Duquesne Dukes, 77-52, on November 11, as well.

The women’s Head Coach Kyra Elzy later remarked on the Kentucky women’s win against Radford saying that “any win is a great win and we will take it.” She noted however, that the team needs a little work: “We’ll be back to work on Wednesday, continuing to work on our defensive execution,” Elzy said. The Lady Wildcats later went on to beat the Morehead State Eagles, 73-48, on November 11 and also beat the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 79-53, on November 13.

There is so much NCAA basketball going on right now, with the men’s and women’s teams already in full-season action mode, adding wins left and right to their record. College basketball games are broadcast on television every day of the week. 

The men’s and women’s basketball team officially ends at the beginning of April at the end of the NCAA Tournament. Be sure to tune in to TV stations, such as ESPN, SEC Network, ACC Network and local stations to stay up to date with all things college basketball.