A Look Inside Arguably The Weirdest NCAA Division 2 Basketball Season To Date


Courtesy of Biola Athletics

College Basketball is a pretty big deal in America, especially during March Madness. But what’s it like for Division 2 Basketball schools? These schools are in a separate division than schools like UCLA and Duke University, hence the term Division 1 and Division 2. Only Division 1 schools compete in March Madness. Sure, Division 2 and 3 schools have a national basketball tournament every year, but the amount of interest in those tournaments is way lower than the hype that surrounds March Madness every year. Why is that? Well, for one, the players aren’t as well-known. Two, they don’t bring in as much revenue, and three, they’re usually held at a lower standard since they’re in a lower division.


    As you all know, the world has been anything but normal since March because of COVID-19. All college sports were abruptly canceled, and just recently have they started back up again. Slowly. If you’re a college basketball fan, you know that Division 1 basketball teams have been playing under strict protocols with no fans for a couple months now. Sure, it’s nothing like it would be if not for COVID, but games are still being nationally televised and there’s still a good amount of hype surrounding some of them. But what’s it like for Division 2 basketball programs? Without COVID, they’re rarely televised on ESPN or FOX Sports anyway, but they still generate some energy at their school and around their area. Take, for example, Biola University, located in La Mirada. They play in the Pacwest, one of many Division 2 leagues around the country. Their main rival is Azusa Pacific University. They play each other twice every year, and the gyms are always packed and boisterous with supporters from opposite sides when they play. Sure, they’re not known like Division 1 programs are, but at their schools and in their cities, it’s a big deal.


    So, what’s it like for a basketball team like Biola University this year? Well, they are having a season, but it’s definitely not one they’re used to. Junior guard Alex Wright, who is currently averaging just over 17 points a game and 10 rebounds a game through 5 games, describes this season as: “weird and different”.  Biola is part of the Pacwest Conference. This conference is made up of four teams from Northern California, four from Southern California, Biola being one of them, and three from Hawaii. Usually, every team in the league plays a 20-game league schedule, playing every team in the conference twice. This means that Biola University usually has two big road trips a year: one to NorCal and one to Hawaii to play the teams in their league that are located there. But due to COVID, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has ruled that Division 2 teams will play a shortened season against only the teams in their league that are close by. Therefore, the Biola Basketball team will not be traveling to Northern California or Hawaii to play the teams there. Instead, they’ll only be playing the three teams in Southern California that are in their league: Azusa Pacific University, Point Loma University and Concordia University. They’ll play each of these teams four times, so twelve games in total. They’ve played four league games so far, and are currently 3-1, having won their first league game 86-77 over Azusa Pacific, losing their second 77-68 to Azusa Pacific, followed by two straight victories over Concordia University, the first ending in a score of 94-78, the second being a bit closer, with a final score of 80-70. Alex Wright scored 28 points and had 13 rebounds that game, with starting point guard Chris Rossow pitching in 25 points. When asked about what it’s like to have such a great game without any fans there, Wright responds: “It’s definitely very interesting and different. Without fans, you’re forced to bring the energy, and games are a lot different than usual.” If you’d like to follow Biola University throughout the season this year, click on this link.


    If you’re a college basketball fan or follower, you might be thinking: Well, then why are all these Division 1 teams playing 20+ game seasons while Division 2 teams aren’t? Good question. Not all Division 2 teams are playing as short of a season as Biola is. The main reason why Biola is playing an even shorter season than lots of other Division 2 teams is because the school is in LA County, where COVID regulations are really strict. For example, Biola did play one non-league game before they started league play. Their opponent? Out-of-state Northwest Nazarene, located in Idaho! This team does not have as strict regulations as Biola does, therefore they were allowed to go on a four-game Southern California road trip, with one of their games being against Biola. Biola lost, 90-81. Division 1 basketball teams, on the other hand, have lots more fans and hype, especially the major ones, such as Duke. Division 2 basketball teams don’t. They aren’t on national television, they don’t have huge fan bases. Their fans are almost all local and/or they’re probably alumni of the school. Therefore, Division 2 basketball teams don’t bring in as much money compared to what Division 1 basketball teams bring in for the NCAA. Therefore, the NCAA isn’t going to prioritize Division 2 Basketball, in fact, they’re almost forgotten about during a year like this. And because of that, some Division 2 schools have cancelled sports, since they no longer had the budget to support them (for example: Notre Dame de Namur University). You see, sporting events bring in good money for a school, even at Division 2 schools, since the fans who come to games pay money for their seats. But this year, there are no fans, for both Division 1 and Division 2. But Division 1 basketball programs have it easier, since they have bigger revenue and budgets, plus some get nationally televised. Division 2 programs don’t. 


    Therefore, Division 2 basketball programs have it tough this year. Shortened seasons, lost revenue, you name it. But this season is also probably the weirdest for most college basketball programs, Division 2 and Division 1 alike. Hopefully, college basketball can get back to normal soon once COVID ends. It would definitely be helpful to Division 2 basketball programs, that’s for sure.