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Athletics will return to Orono this weekend as the UMaine men's basketball team hosts New Hampshire

For the first time since March, the University of Maine will host a sports game on campus. The men's basketball team will host UNH for two games on Jan. 2-3.

ORONO, Maine — Student-athletes at the University of Maine have been adapting and pivoting their schedules since March when the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of all colligate sports. 

Since then, some schools have been playing full football seasons while UMaine players practiced this fall and as we head into the middle of the winter sports season, the Black Bears still haven't played a game in Orono since March.

That will change this weekend (Jan. 2-3) when UMaine will host rival UNH at the Memorial Gynamisum for a two-game series.  

The University's athletic program released a statement in part:

"After a full review of the America East Health & Safety Return to Competition Protocols, and working to comply with University of Maine System and Maine state guidance, UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy has determined that the Athletics Department can proceed to conduct basketball competition in The Pit at Memorial Gymnasium."

The Black Bears (0-3) are hoping for some homecourt advantage even without any spectators as Maine has not won a game yet this season. The team dropped two games to America East Conference opponents the University of Hartford and Boston College.

The Wildcats are 3-2 heading into the "Buffalo Wild Wings Border Battle" after beating Hartford twice last weekend.

The women's hoops team will get its first crack on the home hardwood when it hosts the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Jan. 9-10.

Per Maine's Executive Order for indoor gathering limits of 50-people or less, no fans will be allowed inside the game, and only essential team personnel will be in attendance.

The men's ice hockey team is slated to host the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Friday and Saturday in Orono but no official word has been made if the game will be played or postponed.

Hockey teams typically have close to double the number of players than a basketball roster which makes complying with the 50-person gathering limits more difficult. 

The Black Bears have not skated against an opponent since a 6-2 loss against UNH on Dec. 12. The team has only played two games, the fewest by any winter sports team in Orono.