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COVID-19 Impacting NCAA Tournament

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Mar/16/2021

There isn't a college basketball team in the country that didn't suffer a postponement or cancellation because of COVID-19 and the safety protocols set up by the NCAA. And as we all know, the NCAA Tournament is taking place exclusively in Indiana to limit travel and the exposure of players, coaches, and officials.  

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So it would have been more than a minor miracle if the entire tournament had been played without at least one issue from COVID-19. But as it turns out, we didn't even make it to the first round. 

Six Men's Tournament Referees Sent Home 

Beware the Ides of March is Shakespearean and also practical advice. One NCAA Tournament referee tested positive for COVID-19 on March 15, and because he interacted with five other officials in Indianapolis, all six have been replaced.

It all happened because rooms at their Indianapolis hotel weren't ready when the officials arrived on Sunday night. And with no food on hand, the group of officials was given permission to leave the hotel to get something to eat. They left together and ate dinner as a group, and the next morning, they were tested.

The official who tested positive for COVID-19 will be placed in isolation. The other five officials will be placed in quarantine. Four replacement officials have been selected but will need negative tests before they are allowed to work any tournament games.

The First Four tips off on Thursday, and online sportsbooks have posted point spreads for all four games. 

Kansas COVID-19 Updates 

The No. 3 seed Kansas Jayhawks were forced to withdraw from the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City because of a positive COVID-19 test for Jalen Wilson. And that came on the heels of positive tests for David McCormack and Tristan Enaruna, who were already in isolation back in Lawrence.

The team has traveled to Indiana without the three players. Head coach Bill Self says, however, that McCormack and Enaruna should be able to join them before the end of the week and before the team plays its first-round game against Eastern Washington, assuming they continue to test negative. Wilson, however, is not expected to be around for the first round or a possible second-round game on Monday.

McCormack is KU's second-leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Wilson averages 12.1 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds per game.

Current online odds have Kansas at +3500 to win its first national championship since 2008. 

UConn's Women's Coach Tests Positive 

The top-ranked team in the Women's NCAA Tournament will be without head coach Geno Auriemma after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. The Connecticut coach says he isn't experiencing any symptoms of the virus, but he will have to miss the team's first-round game on Sunday against High Point.

The positive test came just four days after Auriemma received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nine days shy of when the CDC says a person is fully vaccinated. Assistant head coach Chris Dailey will take over until Auriemma is able to return.

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