Ivy League Nixes Winter Sports But Villanova and 76ers Readying for Tip Off

We should be used to this by now.

The year 2020 has taken away another sports season, this time in the Ivy League. The conference that canceled its fall sports seasons due to coronavirus concerns has now nixed its winter sports too.

“Consistent with its commitment to safeguard the health and well-being of student-athletes, the greater campus community and general public, the Ivy League Council of Presidents has decided that league schools will not conduct intercollegiate athletics competition in winter sports during the 2020-21 season,” the Ivy League announced in a news release.

According to CBS Sports, the Ivy League becomes the first Division I conference to cancel its winter sports. And the move arrived without much surprise across the sports landscape. Athletics is not the economic engine at Ivy League schools that it might be at other colleges.

“We don’t need money to play,” an unnamed source said in the CBS Sports article. “In the Ivy League, it’s 100% a health and safety issue.”

What does Ivy League cancellation mean for Philly basketball?

For starters, the University of Pennsylvania‘s storied arena, the Palestra, a place sometimes called the Cathedral of College Basketball, will be pretty quiet this year.

There will be no college basketball betting lines for the Penn Quakers. And no futures wagers either. Any hopes for an NCAA Tournament appearance are likely dashed too.

And with COVID numbers rising across the state and the region, other conferences are certainly considering their own futures as well.

Villanova appears headed for a safe start in “Bubbleville”

Fortunately, the immediate future for Villanova, the biggest brand in Philadelphia basketball seems safe. In fact, the Wildcats will kick off their own season in just a couple weeks at an event nicknamed “Bubbleville,” which is being hosted by the Mohegan Sun and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

The event will run from November 25 to December 5 and will feature 45 games in 11 days. Villanova, which starts the season ranked No. 3, plays its season opener Nov. 25 against Boston College. Baylor (No. 2), Virginia (No. 4), Arizona State (No. 18) and Oregon (No. 20) are also scheduled to participate.

Villanova is currently the favorite to win the Big East conference in futures wagers available at BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse. The Wildcats are currently -109, ahead of Creighton (+375), UCONN (+500), and Seton Hall (+800).

Across the state, the Pitt Panthers are tenth amongst ACC favorites. Pitt carries +10000 odds to win the conference, trailing far behind frontrunners Virginia (+215) and Duke (+225).

On the national level, Villanova is firmly in the mix there as well. BetRivers has the Wildcats as the favorite for this year’s NCAA Championship (+700) ahead of Iowa (+800), Baylor (+800), and Gonzaga (+800).

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76ers season will begin in December

And for those looking for even more basketball, the NBA Draft arrives next week and a new agreement allows the season to start on December 22. Free agency will start soon after the draft on Wednesday.

And according to an ESPN article, the Sixers and the rest of the NBA will open training camp on December 1. A 72-game season will begin three weeks later.

NBA futures betting is live at PA sportsbooks

A number of PA sports betting apps have already posted futures for the upcoming season. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Lakers as the favorites to repeat (+350). The 76ers are +3000 to win the NBA title and +1200 to win the Eastern Conference.

In MVP futures, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the favorite at +600. Joel Embiid (+4000) and Ben Simmons (+6000) are also on the board. But if the NBA’s trade rumors swirling across Twitter come to fruition, a lot could change between now and the season’s tip off. Bettors would be wise to wager with a little bit of caution.

Basketball will soon return

Philadelphia basketball will certainly look a lot different this season. The Ivy League is shut down. Villanova is starting the season in something resembling a bubble. And the Sixers won’t play their first game until three days before Christmas.

But basketball is coming back. Some teams will take the court. Some NBA bets will be made. And after everything else that’s been lost in 2020, that seems like a decent place to start.

We’ll take what we can get.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola

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