Friday, January 21

Virginia waits in her own NCAA bubble as COVID test knocks Cavaliers out of ACC Tournament



Virginia may be in the NCAA’s worst tournament bubble.

It’s not about the quality of the Cavaliers’ game. They are the 2020-21 regular season champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference. They are ranked 13th on the NCAA assessment tool, also known as the NET ranking. They were scheduled to play in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament on Friday.

Yes, that is correct. We change the verb tenses for you. UVa’s game against Georgia Tech was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test within the Cavaliers program, and now their status is uncertain for the NCAA Tournament, where they are technically defending champions because they won in 2019 and did not take. no tournament held in 2020..

They are not automatically excluded from competing in the NCAA. But even though a team with Virginia’s record will surely be in the bracket in a normal season, it is also not certain that they will be in Indianapolis next week with 67 other teams.

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This was from the document presented to all aspiring NCAA Tournament teams in late January:

“Beginning about Saturday, March 6, all individuals in the official travel group of 34 will require seven consecutive negative COVID-19 tests daily before arriving in Indianapolis.

“If a participant tests positive before arriving in Indianapolis, or is determined to be a close contact, they will be managed by the local public health authority and will not be able to travel to Indianapolis until their period of isolation or quarantine is complete.”

A lot of this comes down to how many people are considered “close contacts” of the person who tested positive, and also how many could test positive before the Cavaliers team plane is scheduled to depart for IND.

For example, if a team like UVa can assure the NCAA that it has five eligible players who would not fall into any of those categories, it could still be included on the field. And if some of those who cannot make the initial trip fall into the “close contact” category only, the group may be able to make the trip at a later date; time will depend on what “local public health” officials deem necessary. .

This is not necessarily a complication for the NCAA tournament selection committee. A Saturday deadline has been set at 11pm for teams to inform the NCAA that their medical situation would not allow a team to be sent to Indianapolis.

That leaves plenty of time for committee members to adjust the seed list, if necessary, and compile the official support when they start work on Sunday.

MORE: Tracking COVID-affected Teams Before the NCAA Tournament

There is also an established protocol if a team believes it is fit to travel for the tournament and then learns, just before departure or shortly after arrival, that it has positive evidence that would prevent it from competing. The NCAA will designate teams No. 69-72 as next in line in the event that a team that was selected as an overall participant is forced to withdraw from the championship. As long as that occurs before March 16 at 6pm, the team or teams that would be next in line would be eligible to enter the tournament on the seed line to which the retiring team had been assigned.

The ACC has had a difficult year trying to compete during the pandemic. According to research compiled by Taylor Eldridge of the Wichita Eagle, the ACC had completed 81.3 percent of its games with one week remaining in the regular season, 23rd among Division I conferences.

Virginia became the second ACC team in as many days to withdraw from the conference tournament. Duke did the same before a quarterfinal game against Florida State due to a positive test and subsequent contact tracing. The Blue Devils decided to end their season at that time. It would have been unlikely that they would have been drafted to the NCAA without more achievements in the ACC Tournament.

“I am heartbroken for our student-athletes, coaches and support staff in both Duke and Virginia,” said new ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips in a statement released to the media. “Our teams have worked incredibly hard and sacrificed so much during this season. We continue to be guided by our ACC Medical Advisory Group and the protocols in place that have allowed our teams to compete safely during the 2020-21 season. We will continue the example of our medical staff to ensure that the health and safety of our programs remain the highest priority. Our student-athletes and schools have been extraordinary all season while enduring incredibly challenging circumstances. “




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