The Michigan Basketball team took down Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, but they’re unlikely to keep wearing their practice uniforms.
College basketball is rife with superstition the month of march with fans hoping their team can stay hot and make big runs in conference and national tournaments. Fans of Michigan basketball took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon to post their hopes for the Wolverines to continue to wear their practice uniforms in Tournament play.
For those unaware, the Wolverines were forced to don their practice gear for Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament win over Illinois after a plane accident on the way to Washington, D.C. forced them to take the floor in the only team gear they had available: their practice uniforms.
This is a fun sentiment but, unfortunately, these particular uniforms are against NCAA rules. From the NCAA men’s basketball rule book:
"Uniforms – Shorts. (Rule 1-22.4). The perceptible majority color of the game shorts shall be the color of the neutral zone of the game jersey."
The neutral zone is the portion of the game jersey (top) that extends from the shoulder panel on down (where the team name and numbers are written). In the case of these practice uniforms, the neutral zone is maize while the shorts are blue.
The uniforms might be considered legal if they wore the reverse side of the jersey to go with blue on blue, though it’s not clear if having the additional word “basketball” scrawled across the front would be considered kosher.
The penalty (if enforced) for breaking the rule is an administrative technical foul. Technically, Michigan could continue to wear them and simply eat the penalty, but giving up free points isn’t something you want to do with the season on the line.
Michigan was not assessed a technical foul on Thursday. It’s likely that the Big Ten Conference approved the use of the practice uniforms considering the circumstances.