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Schedule Change: West Virginia to Start Season Against Northern Iowa, not Texas A&M

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The Mountaineers will tip off the action in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-West Virginia vs. Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of a clash with Texas A&M, West Virginia men’s basketball will open its season against Northern Iowa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

What had the potential to a trove of quality wins for the WVU has turned into a gaggle of mid-tier opponents ready to take down a top-25 team. The Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic has dropped and added teams since its announcement just one month ago.

COVID-19 has severely impacted this tournament, which was supposed to be the 2020 Battle for Atlantis in The Bahamas.

The original half of WVU’s bracket included Texas A&M, Ohio State and Memphis. Texas A&M announced today its withdrawal from the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns in the athletic department. The Aggies football game against Ole Miss this Saturday was postponed due to COVID-19 as well.

Now, WVU will join a field of Memphis, St. Mary’s, Creighton, South Dakota State, Utah State and Wichita State. That’s four replacements from the original field revealed on October 14.

Obviously, athletic departments should take the health and safety of their student-athletes the highest priority in all decisions. Texas A&M, Ohio State, Utah and Dayton are doing the right thing for their student-athletes and those who will compete in the season-opening tournament.

The Mountaineers will undoubtedly enter the tournament as the favorites but instead of playing three games against resume-building teams regardless of the outcome of the first game, they will face mid-majors looking for that season-defining win to show to the selection committee.

That said, Memphis and Northern Iowa did receive votes in the AP Men’s Basketball Preseason Top 25 Poll. Ohio State is ranked No. 23 and Texas A&M is nowhere to be found on the list. So perhaps WVU may be able to snag an early-season win over a team projected to turn in a good record this year.

The Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic begins with the WVU-NIU game on Wednesday, Nov. 25. WVU’s second game will be against either St. Mary’s or Memphis, on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, at either 11 a.m. or 4 p.m. The final games are played on Friday, Nov. 27, with the championship tipping off at 12:30 p.m.

All times Eastern.