The NCAA men's basketball tournament set to occur in a bubble format in Indiana next month will likely encounter some coronavirus-related setbacks and concerns. Most likely, it will have at least one team pull out of the competition because of COVID-19 issues.
ESPN's Jeff Borzello reports that the NCAA will not have replacement teams on standby awaiting to fill in for a school that is forced out of the tournament because of COVID-19. Any needed replacement teams will only be announced within 48 hours of the release of the tournament field on March 14.
Eligible teams are to notify the selection committee by the night of March 13 if they're unable to safely meet COVID-19 protocols by the tournament's opening round.
"One-bid leagues are able to designate a replacement team if their automatic qualifier is forced to withdraw. If a team from a multibid league, whether it's an at-large team or an automatic qualifier, is forced to withdraw, the last four teams not selected as at-large teams in the original field will be ranked 1-4 and designated as the replacement teams. Replacement teams will be placed in the same bracket position vacated by the withdrawing team."
No replacement teams will be added to the field once the tournament begins on March 18. A school unable to compete on an announced date will forfeit that game.
"Once the tournament has begun, no team will replace a team that has a COVID-19 issue and can no longer participate in the championship," the NCAA policy reads. "Its opponent would advance to the next round via the no-contest rule."