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SHOCK: Big Ten Cancels Tournament Games Over Coronavirus Fears, ‘March Madness’ Now In Doubt

The Big Ten announced Thursday that they will cancel the remainder of their men’s college basketball conference tournament, reversing an earlier decision to play the games, just without an audience of spectators.
“The Big Ten Conference announced today that it will be canceling the remainder of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, effective immediately,” the league said in a statement sent to sports reporters Thursday morning. “The Big Ten Conference will use this time to work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus.”
“From an advice standpoint, whether it’s the NCAA or any person in my seat, make sure you put the student-athletes at the center of your decision,” the Big Ten’s commissioner Kevin Warren, said in a news conference held Thursday afternoon. “And if you do that, you’ll make the right decision.”
Several games were scheduled for Thursday afternoon, including a game between Rutgers and the University of Michigan. Players were told of the news while they were warming up and were sent back to their respective locker rooms.
Four Big Ten teams played in two games on Wednesday night. The league will suspend the results of those two contests pending the possibility of a later “make-up” tournament.
Winners of the Big Ten tournament typically receive bids to join the NCAA’s master tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” University of Michigan coach Juwan Howard said in a statement after his team’s game ended prematurely. “This is a global situation and we need to make sure we follow the guidance and direction of the experts and health officials. While we are disappointed of not being able to play this event…we need to stay bonded together during this time.”
“The SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, Mid-American, American Athletic Conference and Atlantic 10” followed the Big Ten’s lead and “canceled the remainder of their conference tournaments on Thursday,” according to the Indianpolis Star. “The Ivy League was the first Division I conference to scupper its conference tournament on Tuesday.”
That leaves the future of the NCAA’s “March Madness” men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments up in the air. The ACC and the SEC will award automatic NCAA tournament bids to their respective regular-season champions instead of awarding those same bids to the winners of the SEC and ACC tournaments, according to CBS Sports, but it’s not clear whether the Big Ten or any other league will send athletes to “March Madness.”
The NCAA did announce Wednesday that its men’s and women’s tournament games will be held in smaller venues without an audience, in order to protect athletes and spectators from contracting coronavirus. ‘The NCAA has clarified that refunds will be provided for all fans who hold tournament tickets,” CBS Sports reported.
The National Invitational Tournament, which hosts teams that don’t get NCAA bids, is following the NCAA’s lead and playing its games without audiences. The College Basketball Invitational, which hosts teams that fail to make both the NCAA and the NIT has canceled its tournament altogether.
The NBA announced Thursday night that it would be suspending all regular season games after two players tested positive for the coronavirus.

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