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Louisville will now face Evansville on college basketball’s opening night

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At least that’s the plan.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 05 Missouri Valley Tournament - Valparaiso v Evansville

Covid-19 issues are already affecting Louisville’s 2020-21 men’s basketball schedule, and the season is still 13 days away from getting started.

Because of Covid issues within the team, Southern Illinois announced Thursday that it will not be participating in the Wade Houston Tip-Off Classic. The Salukis had been set to square off against Louisville on Nov. 25, college basketball’s opening night. That spot, according to the Courier Journal’s Shannon Russell, will now be filled by Evansville.

The Aces, who defeated Kentucky last season and then proceeded to go 0-18 in Missouri Valley play and fire head coach Walter McCarty (for non-basketball reasons), are expected to play two games at the KFC Yum Center. Todd Lickliter, who took over in the middle of last season, is now Evansville’s full-time head coach. His top assistant is former Louisville walk-on and later video coordinator, Logan Baumann.

The fun doesn’t stop there, however.

Seton Hall, the team Louisville is scheduled to play in its second game of the season on Nov. 27, announced late Wednesday night that it has paused all team activities due to positive Covid-19 test results among the program’s “Tier 1” personnel, which consists of student-athletes, coaches, staff and managers. As of Thursday morning, there has been no word from the Pirate camp about whether or not the team is still planning on making the trip to Louisville.

It was always an impossibility for this season to take place in a manner that anyone would describe as “smoothly,” but man, it sure seems like this is going to be an awfully difficult thing to pull off in any form. Having some centralized rules, standards and protocols would be a nice start, but hey, it’s the NCAA.