Sport NCAA sets COVID replacement policy for women's tournament
Indiana, Maryland struggles in loaded Big Ten ignite debate over inclusion of .500 team in NCAA field
This has been a college basketball season without precedent, so will the selection committee be interested in breaking most or all the precedents that governed its choices over the past four decades? “I don’t want to see a huge change in that thought process,” college basketball analyst Mike O’Donnell, who calls games for ESPN and CBS Sports, told Sporting News. “If you’re .500 on the season, or you’re below, to me you should have no business being in the conversation. Because winning ultimately matters.” Teams were permitted to play 27 games in 2020-21 and encouraged to play at least four outside their conferences.
The NCAA laid out its contingency plans on Thursday should COVID-19 force a team to withdraw from the women's basketball tournament, and it will not allow a replacement team to enter past March 16 -- five days before the scheduled start.
In fact, should a team not be able to play a game because of medical protocols once the tournament is underway, the game will be recorded as "no contest" and the opponent will move on to the next round.
Changes to the field will be allowed only by following the rules the NCAA specified Thursday.
If an automatic qualifier from a one-bid conference must pull out for COVID-19 reasons, the conference may enter a designated replacement team. If the change is made before the field is set on March 15, the team will be seeded as the tournament committee sees fit. If the change comes after that, the replacement team will fill the departing team's slot in the bracket.
NCAAW what to watch: Oregon, Michigan, Tennessee look for boost while Stanford, South Carolina keep course
The Oregon Ducks were so close to toppling Pac-12 power Stanford in yet another Big Monday matchup that lived up to the hype. It was a teasing showcase for the conference and NCAA tournament as the season hits its penultimate weekend for most. Tennessee, Michigan and South Carolina all have back-to-back contests against ranked opponents this weekend and for the former it could mean better seeding for tourney time. No. 6 Stanford's 63-61 win keptTennessee, Michigan and South Carolina all have back-to-back contests against ranked opponents this weekend and for the former it could mean better seeding for tourney time.
There will be no reseeding or change to the bracket once it is announced.
Should a potential at-large team not meet medical protocols before March 15, the committee must be notified by March 14. If the team is found after that date to not be able to play, a replacement will come from a pool of four teams -- the last four out -- by the March 16 deadline.
Those four teams, if they choose to be considered, will be seeded No. 1 through 4, with the top seed to be the first one in, if needed. The replacement team would go on the same bracket line as the team that is withdrawing.
The tournament is being played this year entirely in the San Antonio area because of the pandemic.
The four replacement teams will remain on their campuses and continue the COVID-19 testing protocol in case they are needed to travel to Texas.
First Round games are scheduled to start on March 21. The championship game is scheduled for April 4 at the Alamodome.
--Field Level Media
March Madness bracket tracker: Updated list of automatic bids to 2021 NCAA Tournament .
Here's the complete list of automatic bids for the 2021 NCAA Tournament as the March Madness bracket begins to come into focus.A total of 31 automatic bids will be awarded for the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2021 with the Ivy League on pause, the only conference that does not have a tournament. (Normally the field of 68 consists of 32 auto-qualifiers and 36 at-large bids). Plans could change given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. But as of now, it’s all systems go.