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Michigan basketball won't participate in 2020 Empire Classic

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Michigan’s basketball team won’t be opening the season in the 2020 Empire Classic.

The event announced Monday that Arizona State, Baylor, Boston College and Villanova will take part in the annual tournament on Nov. 25-26, and it will be moved from New York’s Madison Square Garden to the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard and the Wolverines won't be taking part in the Empire Classic.

The official announcement confirms last week’s national reports that the Wolverines had withdrawn from the event and were replaced by the Sun Devils.

Michigan was set to be one of the headliners in the Empire Classic field, along with preseason top-five teams Baylor and Villanova, as well as N.C. State, which reportedly pulled out last month.

The tournament was originally scheduled for Nov. 19-20 before it was pushed back to start on the first day of the college basketball season.

Last week, Michigan coach Juwan Howard said the team was still looking at details on how the Empire Classic would be conducted from a health and safety standpoint and didn’t confirm the Wolverines had opted out of the event.

“We're trying to do whatever is best to make sure that we chose whatever — if we play in an MTE (multi-team event) or if we host our own MTE — that the health and safety is No. 1,” Howard said. “I'm not in the position at this moment to say what our plans are. We're still working on some things and hopefully we'll have some news to share (in the near future).”

Men’s basketball teams are allowed to play in a maximum of 27 games this season, with 24 regular-season contests and one MTE that includes up to three games.

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins