College basketball might have just been gifted a Final Four preview -- in the very city where the 2021 Final Four is scheduled to be held. It was announced Thursday that the first CBS college basketball broadcast for the 2020-21 season will be Gonzaga vs. Baylor -- the two teams who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in CBS Sports' preseason Top 25 And 1.
They will play each other in a neutral-court game at Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 5. The game will serve as the lead-in to that day's big "SEC on CBS" football matchup.
If both basketball teams live up to expectations for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, there's a chance Bulldogs and Bears could face each other in the same city twice in the same season. That would mean a rematch in the Final Four.
The game will have no fans in attendance due to COVID-19 precautions.
"The game will be played with no fans in attendance, part of a controlled environment in Indianapolis coordinated by Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Indiana Sports Corp. Organizers will work with the Marion County Health Department to implement appropriate COVID-19 protocols, as well, to help protect the health and safety all of players, coaches and staff," the release says.
CBS Sports was the first to report in August that Mark Few and Scott Drew decided to make the progressive and unusual midsummer decision to schedule each other for the upcoming season. It's rare to see two teams projected as top-five quality not only intentionally schedule each other, but to do so months into the offseason. Intersport is running the Dec. 5 event, but the company has also teamed up with Indiana Sports Corp. and another event organizer to try and put on a bubble-like environment in Indianapolis for multiple teams later in December and in fact deep into the college basketball season.
The game was made possible due to Gonzaga, at the time, losing multiple Pac-12 opponents after the Pac-12's presidents and chancellors made the initial decision to not allow college basketball to be played before Jan. 1. That decision was reversed by the Pac-12 on Sept. 24, but Gonzaga has pressed on and aggressively looked to schedule other high-profile opponents in recent weeks.
Gonzaga and Baylor were a combined 57-6 last season, and on March 12, when the NCAA Tournament was canceled, both teams were projected as No. 1 seeds. The squads should have preseason All-American candidates: Baylor with Jared Butler and MaCio Teague; Gonzaga with Corey Kispert and Drew Timme. Gonzaga also brings aboard its highest-rated recruit in program history, Jalen Suggs, who was a top-10 prospect in the Class of 2020 according to 247 Sports.