It is now less than three weeks until the NCAA Tournament begins. Even as excitement grows, there is also fear among basketball fans that the tourney could be interrupted by COVID-19. Many questions have surfaced as to how the event would continue if an outbreak occurred, and this week, the NCAA released their procedures for replacing teams that cannot participate due to COVID-19.
First, the NCAA has set a deadline for replacing teams before the tournament starts. Schools can be replaced before Tuesday, March 16 at 6 p.m. ET. After that time, no team can be replaced. If a program needs to withdraw, their scheduled game will be declared a “no contest” and the team they are facing will move on to the next round of the NCAA Tournament.
So what happens in a replacement scenario that occurs before the deadline? If an automatic qualifier needs to be replaced, one-bid leagues can pick a replacement team, following procedures the conference has filed with the NCAA. If the bracket has already been released, the replacement team would be placed in the exact spot in the bracket of the school it replaces. If this happens before the bracket is released, the team would be seeded based on its resume. Of course, the replacement team would have to meet all the COVID-19 protocols in order to participate.
A slightly different scenario happens for at-large teams that need to be replaced. Those schools would be replaced with the “First Four Out” teams that are chosen by the selection committee. The replacement programs would also be inserted into the same spot on the bracket as the team they replaced. For instance, if an at-large #4 seed had to withdraw, its replacement would become a #4 seed.
Hopefully none of this happens and the NCAA Tournament goes off without a hitch. If it does, the chaos that would occur with replacing teams could have a serious impact up and down the bracket.
This season, I’m very excited about the new Bracketology by TKBrackets podcast. On each episode we will take a look at the most recent bracket and highlight teams that have made moves. We will also have guests on like the top bracketologists in the country, NCAA staff members who help put the official bracket together, former selection committee members and the biggest names in college basketball.
Check out the latest podcast and get caught up on all the past episodes right here at Buzzsprout or anywhere you go to listen to podcasts.
LAST FOUR IN: Utah State, VCU, Georgia Tech, Michigan State
FIRST FOUR OUT: Stanford, Seton Hall, Duke, Memphis
NEXT FOUR OUT: SMU, Indiana, Minnesota, Drake
CONFERENCES WITH MULTIPLE BIDS
Big Ten: 9
Big 12: 7
Big East: 4