No. 21 seed Kentucky will face North Carolina on Saturday at the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas after both of their opponents were forced to withdraw due to COVID-19 issues, while a second cancellation for Seton Hall in several days would lead to a forfeiture of the East Conference standings. Great.
The worsening coronavirus situation in the United States forced another racing schedule across college basketball on Friday. The new match was announced after the fourth seed UCLA canceled its game against the Tar Heels. The Bruins have paused team-related activities, and the status of their future games is undetermined. They canceled a home game against Alabama State that was scheduled for this week.
The other game that was part of the Vegas event, a game between #15 Ohio and Kentucky, has been canceled due to positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program.
At Seton Hall, Monday’s Buccaneers match against St. John’s has been cancelled. In a statement from the school, this will only result in the conference losing as per Big East policy when the team is unable to start or complete a game due to insufficient number of players.
This will not affect Seton Hall’s overall record and will be reduced to a “no competition” as per NCAA policy.
The announcement came a day after Seton Hall’s game Saturday against Iona at Madison Square Garden was called off.
At least 20 men’s basketball games and 36 women’s basketball games this season have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 protocols as of Friday afternoon. It’s a number that seems certain to grow as the nation grapples with an increase in coronavirus cases.
The second seed Duke announced on Friday afternoon that he will play Elon on Saturday after a second opponent was called off due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Blue Devils were originally scheduled to play a Cleveland State game before that program had to cancel and pause team activities. Then Duke made a date for Loyola Maryland, only to say the game was also off due to positive tests in the Greyhounds program.
Duke ended up bringing Elon, which is about 40 miles west of Durham. Elon coaches Mike Schrag, who worked nine seasons under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.
Syracuse also announced that it will cancel its next two games due to COVID-19 protocols. The school will determine whether Saturday’s game against Lehigh and next Tuesday’s game against Cornell can be made up at a later time.
“Our highest priority is to protect the health and well-being of our student-athletes, athletics staff, fans, campuses, and the communities of Central New York,” said John Wildhak, director of athletics at Syracuse. “While it is disappointing to have to postpone any sporting event, this is the right decision given the increasingly challenging public health landscape.”
In the meantime, one team started being shut down again. Washington suspended play temporarily after cases broke out after the game on November 27. Washington had a fifth-place game in Gonzaga canceled, a road game rescheduled at No. 8 in Arizona in January, and a home game against UCLA fourth-placed was canceled. It scored in the Pac-12 rankings as a loss during that extended period.
Washington coach Mike Hopkins declined to say how many players and coaches have tested positive for the virus. He said the team finally began full practice on Monday and expects everyone to be available when they return to Earth on Saturday against Seattle, 21 days after their last game.
“With these opportunities against some of the best teams in the country, you always learn a lot about your team, about yourself and your program, and we were really looking for those opportunities,” Hopkins said on Friday. “But as we all know, this thing is serious and real. And we are just fortunate that no one was really affected personally and we are just grateful that we were able to get through that.”
Citing public health recommendations and team COVID-19 concerns, Colorado State canceled its 23rd game Saturday against Tulsa at the Hoops Hype XL Collegiate Basketball Showcase in Fort Worth, Texas, and later withdrew from the game Tuesday night against No. 6 Alabama at CM Newton Classic in Birmingham.
“By making the decision now, it gives Alabama a chance to find another opponent for next week,” said athletic director Joe Parker.
Schedule changes also include Hampton’s withdrawal from the Legacy Classic against North Carolina Central on Saturday, with Hampton temporarily suspended from team activities due to protocols. Delaware replaces the Hamptonians in the event featuring the HBCUs.
On the women’s side, Middle Tennessee’s game in Belmont on Sunday was halted due to problems with the Belmont program. No makeup appointment has been set.
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