The NCAA considered a plan to hold a 16-team NCAA Tournament next week, according to Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press.
As concerns grew in recent days over the coronavirus pandemic, NCAA executives considered several alternatives to the 68-team Division I tournament. They realized a three-week tournament would not be feasible but hoped to play a condensed tournament from Thursday-Monday in Atlanta, the site of this year’s Final Four.
A selection committee would have chosen the top 16 teams in the country, regardless of conference. The idea of holding a 16-team event got “mixed interest” from committee, according to NCAA vice president of men’s basketball Dan Gavitt.
The other issue was, naturally, concerns about the spreading virus. Once Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive, which led to the NBA’s decision to suspend play, some college players were leery of taking the court.
“There was a real concern about not being inclusive enough, with only 16 teams,” Gavitt said. “But the other thing that was in play at that point in committee members’ minds, and we saw this play out at conference tournaments, once an NBA player was infected, I think it started to really hit home for the players, from what I’ve heard from coaches by text message and anecdotally.”
The NCAA opted to cancel its basketball tournaments and all other remaining championship events on Thursday.