USA TODAY US Edition
NCAA will replace COVID-19 teams
Should any teams selected to the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments be impacted by COVID-19 and forced to withdraw, there is a contingency plan to quickly replace the school in the bracket.
There will not be any replacements once the tournaments begin, however.
The NCAA detailed the plan in an announcement Thursday ahead of Selection Sunday for the men’s field March 14 and the women’s field March 15.
The first priority in replacing any team will be to ensure that all 31 conferences playing will be represented. That would mean if a school from a one-bid league drops out then it would be replaced by a team from the same league. Should the team withdrawing be from a conference with multiple bids then a selection would be made from those atlarge teams considered when the field was announced.
One significant part of the plan: There will be no seeding changes once the field is released. The incoming team will assume the position in the bracket of the team it replaces.
Should any automatic qualifier be deemed unavailable to play before the bracket is announced, the conference may specify a replacement based on criteria submitted before Friday.
The highest-ranked four at-large schools that are not included in the field can be considered replacement teams. The teams will be ordered one through four and be required to continue testing protocols for COVID-19 in case they are later considered as a replacement.
Once the field is announced, any school from a single-bid league would have to pass seven consecutive days of COVID-19 tests to be allowed in the field.
The deadline for replacing teams in the men’s and women’s tournament is March 16 at 6 p.m. ET. The men’s tournament starts March 19 in the Indianapolis area. The women’s tournament starts March 21 in San Antonio.
If any team is forced out for medical reasons, then its opponent would advance.