The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference all canceled their basketball tournaments Thursday because of concerns about coronavirus, putting the playing of the NCAA Tournament in doubt.
Within minutes of each other, the five most high-profile conferences in college sports announced that the remainder of their tournaments would not be played. All were preparing to play games in large arenas across the country, but with few people in the buildings.
The NCAA announced Wednesday that it planned to play its men’s and women’s tournament games that start next week with restricted access for the general public. The NCAA said only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to attend the games.
Following the NCAA’s lead, most college conferences announced that their basketball tournaments would be conducted with limited fan access the rest of the week. By Thursday, after the NBA suspended its season Wednesday night, most Division I conferences decided not to play at all.
But not all of them. The Big East started its second-round game between top-seeded Creighton and St. John’s at Madison Square Garden as most of the sport was shutting down.
Also, canceling their tournaments were the American Athletic Conference in Fort Wort, Texas, and the Mid-American Conference in Cleveland at an arena scheduled to be the site of NCAA men’s tournament games next week.
The NCAA had announced Wednesday that it planned to play its men’s and women’s tournament games that start next week with restricted access for the general public. The NCAA said only essential staff and limited family members would be allowed to attend the games.
The men’s NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular events on the American sports calendar. March Madness draws hundreds of thousands of fans to arenas from coast to coast.