[See our complete guide to March Madness.]
The NCAA basketball tournament brackets have been frozen, but in addition to the chaos that may arise within the court between now and early April, the coronavirus will be a persistent threat to promote the two market events of university sports.
If a team in the men’s or women’s tournament does not have five players available for a match, the opponent will automatically advance. And while a handful of replacement teams were ready to travel to game sites in Indiana and Texas, the NCAA said Wednesday that no new teams will be added to the tournament.
The men’s tournament, which begins Thursday with four playoff games, features 68 teams. The women’s competition, which starts on Sunday, has 64 teams in its field.
“The teams were very cooperative,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president of basketball, said this week in Indiana where the men’s tournament is being held. “They understand the challenges – they’ve been living the challenges all season – and so it’s going pretty well. But no one lets their hats down. No one makes assumptions about the lack of challenges ahead. ”
Teams have been arriving for the men’s tournament since Saturday, and the NCAA said Wednesday that seven people tested positive for the virus after processing about 6,900 samples. Because the association requires a series of people connected to the tournament to test regularly, it has opened up the possibility that few – or none – of the positive results involved players or coaches.
Although no teams dropped out before the deadline of the week for replacing a school to be invited, the virus caused uproar around both tournaments.
Virginia, the 2019 champion for men, will only arrive in Indiana later this week, and his plans have been delayed due to a positive test and contact detection that has sent most of the team into quarantine. The Cavaliers, a No. 4 in the West region, will play 13 in Ohio on Saturday.
In the women’s tournament, Connecticut, the leading team in the River Walk region, will be without coach Geno Auriemma at least in the first game after testing positive for the virus. If UConn caused a stir by no. 16 High Point avoided, Auriemma is also expected to miss his team’s second round match.
Although NCAA officials impose a ‘controlled environment’ around teams, with protocols ranging from bus travel to testing, the association’s president Mark Emmert acknowledged in an interview that matters could arise during the tournaments. in early April.
“The first goal is no serious medical problems,” Emmert said Monday. “It does not mean that we do not have to pull out teams, or that someone has to test positive. We are not naive about it – but no serious medical problems at all.”