INDIANAPOLIS _ The first-round game between No. 7 seed Oregon and No. 10 seed Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA men’s tournament was called off three hours before it was to begin Saturday night because of COVID-19 concerns.
Oregon will advance to the second round to face the winner of Iowa-Grand Canyon, the NCAA said. It did not provide any more details, citing privacy concerns.
“This decision was made in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department,” the NCAA said in its statement. “The NCAA and the committee regret that VCU’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to play in a tournament in which they earned the right to participate.”
This was always the fear of NCAA officials, who have gone to great lengths to try and prevent the COVID-related cancellations that produced repeated disruptions during the regular season. Teams have been sequestered since they arrived in Indianapolis, allowed to do little more than practice, play and have team meetings. Players and coaches are tested every day, and wearable technology allows health officials to check players’ proximity to each other for contract tracing.
Even before the tournament began, Virginia delayed its arrival because of a COVID outbreak. Kansas was without two players in its first-round victory Saturday, while Georgia Tech was missing ACC player of the year Moses Wright in its loss to Loyola Chicago on Friday.