The 2020 Uni Watch College Basketball Season Preview
We emailed 357 schools across 32 conferences to chart every new development on the uniform landscape
This has been an odd month for sports. Normally, we’d have football, basketball and hockey all in full swing — a smorgasbord of athletic offerings — but the scheduling machinations caused by the pandemic have scrambled the usual sports calendar. The NBA isn’t slated to begin its 2020-21 season until Dec. 22, and the NHL won’t be dropping the puck until New Year’s Day at the earliest.
But college hoops, which usually starts its season in early November, is just about ready to resume, with the 2020-21 season scheduled to tip off on Nov. 25 — the day before Thanksgiving. And that means it’s time for the annual Uni Watch College Basketball Season Preview, with all of the info you need about this season’s new uniforms, court designs and related news.
Before we get to our team-by-team breakdown, it’s worth mentioning that college hoops is always a huge uniform realm to cover, with a whopping 357 Division I schools spread out over 32 conferences (although eight of those schools won’t be playing this season, because the Ivy League has canceled fall and winter sports), all of which were contacted during the preparation of this article. Things were a bit tricky this year, because the pandemic has led to supply-chain slowdowns that have resulted in uni-delivery delays for some schools. In addition, many of the schools’ media representatives have been forced to work from home, which in some cases has prevented them from gathering uniform photos and related materials (plus they’re just frazzled because, well, you know).
That said, we still have more than 100 schools represented in this year’s Season Preview, which is about the same as for a normal year. Schools that aren’t listed either reported no changes for the coming season or didn’t respond to your friendly uniform columnist’s inquiries (many of them seem to be busy with other stuff this year — go figure). Or maybe — just maybe — there was news that flew under your columnist’s radar. It does happen!
Okay, enough preliminaries. Ready to see a slew of new college hoops uniforms, arranged alphabetically by conference and then alphabetically within conference? Ready … deep breath … go!
If you’re used to seeing coaches wearing suits and ties, get ready for something different this year, at least in the ACC, as the conference’s coaches have voted to wear polo shirts this season. Casual Friday every day of the week!
The Eagles have a new retro-themed light-gray uniform for their season-opening game against Villanova on Nov. 25:
“This uniform is inspired by two of BC’s most historic teams — 1958 and 1994,” says a team rep. “The ‘Boston College’ lettering and numbers on the front of the jersey mimic the jerseys from 1958, which was BC’s first NCAA tournament team. The retro logo and placement on the shorts come from the 1994 Elite Eight team. And the gray base color is a 2020 touch.”
The Tigers, like many teams, are adding a social justice patch this season. It bears the word “Unity”:
While many other teams are wearing social justice patches, the Blue Devils are taking things a step further by printing “Equality” beneath their back jersey numbers (additional info here):
Tech is doing all the basic “change for change’s sake” tricks, mixing and matching jersey elements to make it seem like they’re overhauling the design, when they’re really not changing anything of substance (additional info here):
The Cardinals will have social justice messaging fore and aft this year, with a “United as One” patch on the front of their jerseys and “Unity” printed below the numbers on the back:
No visuals, but a team rep says the Hurricanes are another team that will be wearing “Unity” below their back uni numbers.
Also: Expect the ’Canes to unveil a new black alternate made from recycled materials shortly after the December holidays, and there’s also an orange throwback in the works for early 2021.
Also-also: Look for a complete makeover next season.
Although no official announcement has been made, SportsLogos.net’s Andrew Lind is reporting that the Tar Heels will have a new navy alternate uniform this season (additional info here):
Virginia athletics introduced a department-wide rebranding earlier this year, which means the hoops team has new uniforms (simple but snappy) and a new court design:
The Great Danes have switched outfitters this season, moving from Nike to Under Armour. As a result, they have a new brand identity and logo set and also a new set of uniforms:
Nothing new this season for the Bearcats, but they’ll definitely have new uniforms next season — and a new uniform outfitter to boot — because Under Armour is ending its deal with the university four years early.
Temple athletics has switched outfitters, moving from Under Armour to Nike, so the Owls will definitely have new uniforms this season. No visuals yet — stay tuned.
No photos, but a team rep says the Knights’ court will now include a new sponsor/advertiser logo, for Orlando Health.
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Dukes will have a new set of blue uniforms this season, and will also have a new court design when moving into their new arena in early 2021.
The Colonials are adding a Black Lives Matter emblem to their court this year. It’s positioned adjacent to the team’s bench on the upper-right corner of the floor:
The Billikens have made slight adjustments to all four of their uniforms, although a team rep says the new threads haven’t arrived yet: “We might have new uniforms for our season opener on Nov. 25, or we may not!” If the new gear doesn’t arrive in time, they’ll stick with last year’s uniforms as a stopgap.
The Bonnies have made the classic cop-out move of swapping the team name for the school name, and have also “upgraded” to the new Adidas tailoring template — the one that looks like it has a giant Adidas-sponsored gemstone at the base of the collar:
The school’s athletic director, Ryan Bamford, has promised that the Minutemen will have black alternate uniforms this season:
Last season the Dolphins unveiled a sensational “modern throwback” uniform as a nod to the school’s 1969-70 squad, which made it all the way to the NCAA title game. The only problem with the throwback was that they wore it for just one game. Happily, they’re bringing it back for a few games this season, although they haven’t yet decided exactly when.
All Big East teams will wear a “BLM” patch this season. Its design is based on the familiar Big East conference logo patch, which will still be on the jerseys as well.
The Hoyas are the rare team that look good in gray uniforms. This year the grays will feature the team name across the chest, instead of the school name:
Marquette is going with somewhat clunky-feeling new chest script this year, along with a similarly awkward-seeming number font:
As noted in that first tweet, they’ve moved their permanent Al McGuire memorial from the jersey collar to the shorts, and will also be adding a Black Lives Matter patch.
In addition to the gold and navy versions shown above, the team’s wardrobe will also include white, black, powder blue and turquoise uniforms (the latter to be worn for Nike’s annual N7 promotion, to support Native American heritage).
The Pirates are essentially transitioning from one cookie-cutter Under Armour template to another. The overall visual effect is largely the same as last season:
The good news is that the Huskies are adding some nice trim to their collars and armholes. The bad news is that they’re adding a big, honking wordmark to their shorts:
The Musketeers are replacing their dark-gray alternate uniform with a lighter shade of gray. The new design is similar to what the team wore up until the 2013-14 season, when the darker gray was introduced:
Big upgrade for the Vandals, who have one of the best-looking new sets of the year. Kudos to all involved.
The Grizzlies are one of many schools wearing a social justice patch this season — but the only one whose patch is shaped like the great state of Montana (additional info here).
“Montana State” is a lot of letters to crowd onto one line of a jersey, but the Bobcats are going that route with their new road and alternate uniforms:
The Hornets are dialing back the gold trim on their home and road uniforms this year and are also adding a candy-striped pattern to their side panels:
It’s not often that you see arched lettering in italics. Weber State’s new road jersey is a good example of why:
The Fighting Camels (one of college sports’ great team names!) have a new black uniform this season, along with a new court design:
Minor changes this year for the Highlanders, who’ve made small adjustments to their side panels and shorts trim. In addition, they’re adding a new anti-racism jersey patch:
No changes this year for the Terps, but a team spokesman says players will be selecting social justice phrases to wear on the back of their pregame shooting shirts.
Big changes on tap this year for the Spartans, most notably a very bold meander pattern that runs down one side of the uniform, creating an odd asymmetry:
Lots of changes for the Cornhuskers, who’ve eliminated the pinstripes on their home and road uniforms, adopted a bold “Huskers” script on their home whites, changed their alternates from red to black, toned down their shorts striping and added a social justice patch:
In addition, Nebraska will debut a new retro-inspired uniform at some point this season, probably around the turn of the new year, so watch for that.
OSU also has two new alternate designs in the hopper, so look for those to be unveiled at some point during the season.
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Scarlet Knights have two things in the works: “The first is a uniform patch to support the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s actually handful of different patches featuring sayings that our players came up with that were meaningful to them. The second is a new throwback uniform modeled after a previously worn jersey from the early 1980s.”
All Wisconsin sports teams are supporting social justice this season by wearing a black “W” crest. No visuals yet of how it will look on the Badgers’ basketball uniforms.
What’s better than a green collar? A green and yellow collar! It’s a small detail, but it packs a strong aesthetic punch this year for the Bears:
The Jayhawks have been “upgraded” to Adidas’ latest tailoring template, which has an unusual collar design and puts the Adidas maker’s mark right in the center. Not a great look.
A team rep says the Sooners may add a memorial patch for for former head coach Billy Tubbs, who died earlier this month, but the plans for that hadn’t been finalized by press time.
The Horned Frogs are adding a social justice patch featuring a raised black fist and the hashtag #TogetherOn3, which is the school’s racial-unity campaign:
If you’re a big fan of sports facilities named after supermarkets, you’ll be glad to learn that Texas Tech’s arena name will continue to be an ad for a grocery chain at least through 2035.
Cal State Bakersfield
The Roadrunners have moved from the WAC to the Big West, which means the conference logo patch on their jerseys will be changing. They’ve also added the Big West logo to their court design:
A team rep says this season’s uniforms will also feature a social justice patch, “but we’re not prepared to share that just yet.”
Cal State Northridge
The Matadors have one of the more unusual school logos, and it’s showcased nicely on their new home whites. Not so sure about the more conventional type treatment on the new road jersey, though:
Minor adjustments for the Rainbow Warriors, who’ve tweaked their collar trim, armhole trim and side panels:
Long Beach State
The Beach (yes, that’s their team name) have a new shark mascot this year. His name is Elbee, as in “LB,” for “Long Beach” — get it?
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Anteaters (one of the great team names in college sports) will have new road uniforms this season.
No uni changes this year for the Dukes, but they have a new arena, which of course means a new court design:
And while we at it, JMU also has a new practice gym. Here’s a time-lapse video of the floor installation:
At press time, the Tigers were still waiting for the delivery of their new uniforms, but they’re still planning on having an updated look this season. They’ll also have a new design for their annual autism-awareness game in February.
Along with a few other changes, the Seahawks have changed to a crossover collar — a design element that your friendly uniform columnist has always found incredibly irksome because it always looks ever-so-slightly asymmetrical! Grrrrrr.
Charlotte athletics underwent a department-wide rebranding earlier this year, which means the hoops team has new uniforms and a new court design:
Big upgrade for the Owls’ home whites, which no longer look like a practice or high school design:
Middle Tennessee State
Very straightforward look this season for the Blue Raiders. Here’s hoping they mostly stick with the white and blue designs and keep the drab gray alternates mostly under wraps.
It’s not that common for a school to have two different white uniforms in its wardrobe, but that will be the situation this season for the Eagles:
In addition, Southern Miss has a new court design, with a new lighting system to boot:
When you have a fire-breathing dragon as your mascot, you may as well plaster it at center court, am I right? That’s what UAB is finally doing:
The Vikings have fixed their two biggest problems: the gray lettering on their home jersey, which was hard to read, and the gray numbering on their road jersey, which just looked bad. They’ve also added a new black alternate uniform:
Interesting move by the Phoenix, whose new home whites feature green typography with dark-green inlining — green on green! Pretty cool Wisconsin-shaped logo on the back of the jersey, too:
The school with Division I’s most awkward name (the full moniker is Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis) is adding a new throwback alternate uni this year:
The Norse have finally lost those annoying contrast-colored shoulder straps, and have also made a few other incremental tweaks:
This season’s MAAC schedule features lots of schools playing each other back-to-back in the same arena on Fridays and Saturdays. For example, Monmouth will play at Iona on Dec. 11 and again on Dec. 12. For these two-game series, the home team will wear white on Friday and the road team will wear white on Saturday. (Among other things, this will require the road team to pack two sets of uniforms, so spare a kind thought for the equipment managers, who’ll have that extra task this season.)
The Golden Griffins have updated their golden uniforms with some snappy new trim:
As you can see on the right, the new version includes a BLM patch, which will be worn on all of the team’s jerseys this season.
Also notable: The new gold shorts include the school’s griffin logo — the mascot’s first appearance on the team’s uniforms since the 2016-17 season.
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Gaels will be adding a new gold alternate uniform this year. It will be the team’s first gold uni since 2005.
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Red Foxes (yes, they’re called the Red Foxes!) will wear “BLM” jersey patches this season, and will also have a “Black Lives Matter” decal on their court.
Bland but inoffensive redesign for the Hawks, who, like other MAAC schools, are also adding a BLM patch:
No visuals yet, but the Saints will be wearing Black Lives Matter patches this season, as part of the MAAC’s “United for Justice” campaign. Coach Carmen Maciariello has been very active on that front.
In addition, Siena has a new alternate uniform that will likely debut in early December — stay tuned.
You’d think a team called the Peacocks would have a more dazzling color scheme than just blue and white. But even within their limited chromatic parameters, St. Peter’s has made an upgrade this year:
The Bears have switched outfitters, moving from Adidas to Under Armour — which means, unfortunately, that they’ve been saddled with UA’s signature squared-off collar design:
Another change worth noting: One of Morgan State’s more unusual uni elements was to put the NOB (that’s “name on back,” kids) below the rear uni number, instead of above it. That will apparently be changing this season:
Because Michigan state outline has two primary pieces, so to speak — the Lower and Upper Peninsulas — it looks particularly striking on CMU’s new court design:
Holy Toledo! Very minor changes for the Rockets, who’ve changed their road chest lettering from gold to white and tinkered a bit with the trim and side panels:
Very strange detail on all three of the Sycamores’ new jerseys: Why is there so much space between “Indiana” and the chest number, and no space at all between the number and “State”? Come on, people — vertically center those numbers!
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Ramblers will have a new black alternate uni this season. In addition, all of their uniforms will promote social justice via an “Onward as One” patch.
Nothing new this year for the Salukis, but their in-house designs shared some interesting alternate court designs that were considered but not used:
The Crusaders have two new dark uniforms for this season — one brown and one dark gray:
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Broncos will have a new throwback uniform this season “in one of the team’s primary colors” — so presumably either blue or orange. Stay tuned.
A team rep says the Wolf Pack will have new uniforms this season, but they hadn’t yet arrived in time to be included in this article, so keep an eye out for them once the season begins.
The Cowboys have been offering tantalizing clues about their new look with a series of teaser tweets, but as of press time they hadn’t yet revealed the full designs:
Good move by the Pioneers, who are bringing back their home whites after wearing only gray and red last season:
St. Francis (Pa.)
The Red Flash will have a new black alternate uniform this season to go along with their white, red, and gray designs. It will be worn for the season-opening game against Pitt on Nov. 25.
The good news is that the Eagles have dropped the cartoonish chest lettering. The bad news is that the new type treatment feels really stiff and plain:
Good moves by the Tigers, whose new home and road uniforms are both improvements over their predecessors:
No visuals or details yet, but a team rep says the Tigers will add two new alternate uniforms at some point this season, probably during the conference season.
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Skyhawks will likely have some sort of uniform memorial for head coach Anthony Stewart, who died earlier this month.
No visuals yet, but the Wildcats reportedly have a memorial patch in the works for former coach Lute Olson, who died in August.
Black uniforms are almost a self-parody at this point, but it’s hard to argue with the Sun Devils’ new black alternate design, which is a beauty:
Nothing new for the Cougars’ uniforms or court design, but a team rep says players will be issued T-shirts reading, “Equality,” which they can wear for pregame activities and/or while sitting on the bench if they choose.
Last season the Black Knights wore gold at home, instead of the more common white. This year they’re introducing a new white uniform as their primary home look, with the gold design relegated to alternate status:
The Raiders have modernized their home whites this season. They’re also the only team whose uniform model was wearing a mask:
In addition, Colgate has a new set of logos and branding updates, which you can learn about here.
The Crusaders have cut back on the white trim for their road uniform, and the shorts now have very prominent black panels:
The Greyhouonds’ home court, Reitz Arena, has had a new floor installed — its first new surface since the building opened in 1984. Here’s the new floor design:
Nothing new this season for the Midshipmen, but they plan to wear their 1985-86 throwbacks — a shoutout to the Navy team that featured David Robinson and made it to the Elite Eight — for the season-opening game against George Washington on Nov. 25. A team rep says the throwbacks, which were first worn last season, will likely be worn for an upcoming game against Army as well.
Players on all SEC teams, as well as all officials, will wear contact tracing devices throughout this season. The devices, which are about the size of watch face, can fitted into the players’ uniforms.
Everyone loves time-lapse court-makeover videos, so check out this one for the Crimson Tide’s new floor:
One small but meaningful uniform change for Arkansas: They’re adding an “Equality” patch.
Also, if you get excited about new practice gear, the Razorbacks have you covered:
The Gators renamed their court for former coach Billy Donovan back in February. But since the new name became official in the middle of the season, the team could only add two small-ish decals of Donavan’s signature on the left side of the lane at both ends of the court. The offseason provided an opportunity to have the court resurfaced and painted more permanently, with a much more prominent treatment of Donovan’s signature. In addition, the “Florida Gators” lettering has moved from center court to inside the arcs, and the sidelines now have more of a wood-grain finish, rather than solid blue.
No visuals yet, but a team rep says the Wildcats will introduce a new gray alternate at some point this season. It will have the same basic design as the team’s primary home and road uniforms — same lettering, same trim, same checkerboard side panels.
Meanwhile, Rupp Arena has been rebranded as Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center (really rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?). As a result, logos with the new branding — big, blue boxes that look as awkward as the new arena name sounds — have been placed over the old “Rupp Arena” logos on school’s court:
The plan is for these cover-up logos to serve as temporary placeholders, with an entirely new court likely to be installed within the next few seasons.
It’s also worth noting that the arena’s name has become a point of controversy due to allegations of racism leveled at its namesake, former Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp. Too soon to say whether this will result in the arena’s name being changed, but some university staff members have called for that.
The Bulldogs will be promoting social justice by wearing a “Stronger Together” patch on their uniforms this season (additional info here):
Ole Miss has added a lot of navy trim to its home whites. To this observer, it’s a downgrade — the old look was cleaner:
The team’s red and navy uniforms have also been given that same basic design template:
In addition, a team rep says there will also be two new “special jerseys” debuting later in the year. Meanwhile, the gray alternates have been scrapped, which seems like addition by subtraction.
The Volunteers have a new orange throwback, and it’s a beauty. That noise you hear in the background is everyone saying, “They should make this their primary design!” Hard to disagree (additional info here):
Very classic look for the Aggies this season — well, except for that charcoal-gray design:
The Southern Conference is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021 and is marking the occasion with a new centennial logo, which will be worn on players’ and officials’ uniforms during the conference’s championship tournament (additional info here):
The Huskies are putting their own spin on the social justice patch trend this season. All of their jerseys will carry a “Love Your Brother” patch, with a Christian cross incorporated into the lettering:
In addition, arguably the greatest throwback in all of college hoops — Baptist’s “Hustlin’ Husky” design — will be back for one game this season, although the exact date hasn’t yet been determined. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with this uniform, it’s quite the sight to behold:
While other schools are expanding their wardrobes, the Golden Eagles are trimming theirs back. They’ll wear only their white and navy primary designs this season — no more gold or turquoise alternates (the latter of which were part of Nike’s N7 Native American tribute collection). Expect an entire new uniform set next season.
Big overhaul for Southern’s home uniform, and very much for the better. Here’s the upgrade:
Back in late May, the Eagles prepared four new court designs and encouraged fans to vote on which one should be used this season. Here’s a video of the winning design being installed:
No announced uni news for the Panthers, but it’s worth noting that they’ve begun construction of a new arena, which should be completed in time for the 2022-23 season.
Lots of changes this year for Little Rock, including bi-level chest lettering, a new side-panel pattern and — probably the thing most people will fixate on — the Nike logo being swapped out in favor of the Jordan logo.
No new uniforms this year for Troy, but they do have a new floor design, highlighted by their “T” logo at center court:
What’s worse than having a uniform where the lettering and the base fabric are the same color? Having two uniforms where the lettering and base fabric are the same color! That’s the unfortunate situation with the Lancers’ new set:
Rare that a team will have four uniforms and none of them are white, but that’s the case for the Cougars and their new uni set. They’ll wear gray at home and black on the road, plus a mix of navy and green alternates:
Big upgrade for the Kangaroos! The bi-level jersey lettering, the new gold outlining on the type, the simplified collar, the striped side panels, the awesome logo on the shorts — it all works.
The Roos will have new road uniforms as well, but photos weren’t available at press time.
The Zags have made some small adjustments to their look, the most interesting of which is the use of a new swirly typeface across the chest (additional photos and info here):
No visuals yet, but a team rep says LMU will be unveiling a Black History Month-themed uniform that will be worn for select games in February.
Very minor changes for the Waves’ road uniform, which now has an orange collar and new side panels (here’s a close-up of the “wavy” side panel pattern):
The Pilots will be debuting a new gray/anthracite alternate uniform this season:
Also: While not shown in that photo, all of Portland’s jerseys this season will carry a “United as One” patch.
The Gaels are making the classic “change for the sake of change” adjustments to their home uniforms, replacing the team name with the school name on the chest and inverting the colors from navy outlined in orange to the other way around. There will also be a new road design this season, but photos aren’t yet available.
And there you have it. Did we miss anything? Yeah, probably. If so, you know what to do. Now let’s get set for tip-off!
Paul Lukas will have his annual NBA and NHL season previews shortly before those leagues begin their new seasons. If you like this article, you’ll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for his mailing list so you won’t miss any of his future InsideHook columns. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.
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