Some of the biggest college men’s basketball programs in the country will be sitting on the sidelines this weekend, while CBS Sports reports that there is “a growing sense of nervousness over the stability of the college basketball season.”
"I think the anxiety level is high for myself and a lot of my colleagues and a lot of coaches,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said, according to CBS’ Matt Norlander. “It's a constant — everyone is just holding their breath."
So far, only two games have been postponed this weekend, as the Illinois at Michigan State and Texas at TCU games have been delayed by positive COVID-19 tests with the Michigan State and TCU programs. According to CBS Sports, those two postponements join two from Tuesday and 11 from Wednesday to make it 15 postponed games in a five-day stretch.
The frequent scheduling changes are just one of the reasons Norlander has heard for why there is concern over the continuation of the season. Games have been canceled all season, and there is a potential for more as the general student body returns to campuses — some for the first time since before Thanksgiving.
“The reasons for this are two-fold, both of course based around the ominous nature of the coronavirus,” Norlander wrote Thursday of why commissioners and athletic directors are concerned. “The first has to do with the new President of the United States. With Joe Biden now holding office, high-ranking NCAA officials are in wait-and-see mode about monitoring case counts across the country and bracing for the possibility of federal shutdowns that could impact dozens if not hundreds of schools — prompting a midseason pause in the process.”
The men’s basketball season is approaching the stretch run. The field for the NCAA tournament, all of which will be held in Indiana, is scheduled to be selected March 14, while the national championship is set for April 5 in Indianapolis.
Related content: NCAA Lays Out Plan for Tournament in Indiana
"I think there's a possibility — I hope a remote possibility — that there could be decisions made that are well out of the control of higher education, intercollegiate athletics and the NCAA that could put a pause on what we're doing in sports right now,” McGlade said. “If there's an immediate shutdown for an extended period of time, there are far greater ramifications than the basketball season, whether it's the economy, whether it's healthcare, whether it's the ability for people literally, for families to survive and sustain themselves economically.”
In the meantime, the college basketball schedule will be a little lighter this weekend. TCU head coach Jamie Dixon announced Monday that he had tested positive, while Michigan State’s third straight game has been postponed after the Spartans discovered Sunday that there were three new positive tests among players and staff members. Freshman guard Davis Smith, strength and conditioning coach Marshall Repp and graduate manager Lourawls Nairn Jr. tested positive to join the three players — Joshua Langford, Steven Izzo and Mady Sissoko — that tested positive last week.
Related content: NCAA Releases Plans for DI Women’s Basketball Tourney