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Belmont Abbey, Gardner-Webb 2020-21 basketball schedules are released

By Richard Walker

Belmont Abbey College and Gardner-Webb University announced their respective basketball schedules on Wednesday, with each conference creating schedules in response to the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Belmont Abbey will play 16 men’s and women’s league doubleheaders and two other women’s games in Conference Carolinas action that includes two sets of back-to-back games.

The doubleheaders will begin with back-to-back home games against Barton on Jan. 15 and 16. Other home doubleheaders will be against Emmanuel (Jan. 21), Southern Wesleyan (Jan. 26), Lees-McRae (Jan. 28), King (Feb. 4), Erskine (Feb. 10), Chowan (Feb. 16) and Converse (Feb. 20).

Road doubleheaders begin at Southern Wesleyan on Jan. 19. Other road doubleheaders will be played at Emmanuel (Jan. 23), North Greenville (Jan. 30), King (Feb. 6), at Mount Olive (Feb. 12 and 13), Erskine (Feb. 18) and Lees-McRae (Feb. 23).

League member Converse, an all-women’s school, visits Belmont Abbey on Feb. 20 and host the Lady Crusaders on Feb. 25.

The Crusaders’ men’s team is coached by Dan Ficke and the Lady Crusaders are coached by Jason Williams.

“I would like to applaud our Directors of Athletics and our men’s and women’s basketball coaches for their hard work and efforts to determine what was best for Conference Carolinas with this schedule,” Conference Carolinas commissioner Chris Colvin said in a Wednesday news release. “All involved worked diligently together to come up with different options with the group agreeing that it made the most sense to utilize the format we are unveiling today. We have a tremendous product in Conference Carolinas basketball and I am excited to see our teams competing for the conference regular season title starting in January of 2021.”

The Conference Carolinas Board of Directors unanimously agreed in October to begin league basketball games in January 2021 and teams will can begin practice on Dec. 28.

The Big South Conference has come out with a similar model that Gardner-Webb teams will follow – and both Bulldogs’ teams also have a slate of non-conference games that are scheduled to begin on Nov. 25.

Coach Tim Craft’s men’s team opens its season with four games against major college opposition that begins with a Nov. 25 game at Duke. The Bulldogs will follow that matchup with road games at the ACC’s Florida State (Nov. 27), the SEC’s Georgia (Nov. 29) and the ACC’s Pittsburgh (Dec. 12). Another non-league game will be a played against VMI at a later date.

In Big South play, all league games will be back-to-back contests to limit travel and help ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and staff.

The Bulldogs open at home against Presbyterian (Dec. 9-10) and also has home back-to-backs against Charleston Southern (Jan. 4-5), UNC-Asheville (Jan. 19-20), Campbell (Jan. 29-30) and High Point (Feb. 11-12). G-W road back-to-backs will be against Hampton (Dec. 30-31), Radford (Jan. 14-15), USC Upstate (Jan. 24-25), Winthrop (Feb. 4-5) and Longwood (Feb. 18-19).

Coach Alex Simmons’ women’s team opens its season at home on Nov. 25 against Elon of the Colonial Athletic Association. Other non-league games are on the road against Auburn (Dec. 1), Richmond (Dec. 4), Virginia Tech (Dec. 6) and Vanderbilt (Dec. 20).

In the Big South, the Lady Bulldogs opens on tha road at Presbyterian (Dec. 15-16) and also has road back-to-backs at Charleston Southern (Jan. 4-5), Campbell (Jan. 29-30), High Point (Feb. 12-13) and UNC-Asheville (Feb. 26-27). G-W women’s home back-to-backs will be against Hampton (Dec. 30-31), Radford (Jan. 15-16), USC Upstate (Jan. 22-23), Winthrop (Feb. 5-6) and Longwood (Feb. 19-20).

Big South league officials have contingencies built into the schedule that will the ability to complete league schedules in full. Any games impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic could be made up on various alternate dates, including the week of Feb. 28-March 6.