March Madness

NCAA Unveils Plan for Tournament Teams Affected by COVID-19

There will not be any team replacements once the tournament has began

NCAA March Madness logo
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The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees have come to an agreement on how to handle situations regarding teams withdrawing from the tournament due to COVID-19.

They have different protocols for when a team has to withdraw. There are two scenarios, one for before the announcement of the championship field and one for after the release of the bracket. 

The NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Basketball committees have the same policies but have different dates to abide by. Selection Sunday for the men's field on March 14 and the women's field on March 15.

The main goal is to ensure all 31 conferences playing will be represented. Meaning if a school from a one-bid league is forced to withdraw, a team from the same league will replace them.

If a team redrawing is from multiple bids then a selection would be made from the at-large teams that was considered when the field was announced.

A huge part of the policy is once the bracket is finalized and released, teams will not be reseeded, nor will the bracket change.

This means that if a team is a No. 1 seed and is forced to withdraw before play begins and no other teams remain in the same conference, then a replacement team from the same league will be the new No. 1 seed for that region.

If any of the automatic qualifying teams are forced to withdraw before the bracket is announced, the conference can choose a replacement based on criteria submitted to them beforehand.

The highest-ranked four at-large schools that are not already in the field can be the considered replacement teams. The teams will then be required to regularly test for COVID-19 in case they are called in as a replacement.

After the field is announced, schools from a single-bid league will have to pass seven consecutive days of COVID-19 testing to be allowed in the field.

There will be no teams allowed to join the field after the tournament has begun. The deadline for teams to be replaced in the men's or women's tournament is March 16 at 6 p.m. ET.

The men start on March 19 in Indianapolis. The women start on March 21 in San Antonio.

If any team is forced to withdraw at that point of the tournament then the opponent they were facing would advance.

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