There will be no March Madness or Final Four for the University of Kentucky this year. Both were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped ultra-competitive Kentucky from giving current and former students, as well as alumni and fans, a chance to live the tournament experience virtually.
Thanks to a little vision and its partnership with global gaming organization Gen.G, the University of Kentucky announced plans to host its own “Hoops at Home” UK Twitch Basketball Tournament in the video game NBA 2K20.
“While fans are disappointed to not have their beloved Wildcats participating in March Madness, we hope this online event will help galvanize and serve as a playbook for other colleges and universities to keep their communities connected with competition and entertainment,” said Jordan Sherman, Head of Revenue Operations for Gen.G.
The tournament, which will be broadcast on twitch.tv/universityofky, not only will give players a chance to participate in a distinctive basketball experience but also be able to connect and unify while at home during the COVID-19 crisis.
“This platform provides an opportunity to continue to build community and connection among the members of the UK family,” said Eli Capilouto, president of the University of Kentucky. “We’re excited to see how the UK Twitch Tournament unfolds as a way to connect our students and create community along with all the fans who comprise the Big Blue Nation.”
As with the NCAA’s national tournament – at which Kentucky has been crowned champion eight times – this one features a bracket of 64 players (no play-in games, mind you). Bringing together the entire community was important, so UK and Gen.G. opened up the competition to those 13 and older. They must all have a PlayStation 4 and the NBA 2K20 game.
Like the March Madness tournament, UK will host a Selection Show, where the competitors will be chosen randomly based on skill level and online connectivity. One of the coolest features in the Final Four, which will pit one member each from current UK students, future UK students, alumni and the fans.
The Round of 64 will be played on April 10, the Round of 32 on April 11, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 on April 13 and the Final Four and Championship on April 14. All games will begin at 5 p.m. Fans can use #HoopsatHome, #HealthyatHome, #BetterTogetherUKY and #NBA2K_UK on their social media channels to connect.
Chris Burt is the Esports Editor for University Business and LRP Media Group and is the Program Chair of the newly launched Academic Esports Conference and Expo.