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NCAA announces COVID-19 policy for replacing basketball tournament teams

We now know how the Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will handle teams that have coronavirus cases before and during the NCAA Tournament.

View of the basketball rack with the March Madness logo during practice for the south regional of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum Center. Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA announced on Thursday how they’ll handle teams that are unable to participate or proceed due to COVID-19 during the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Here’s the TL/DR/basic principles if reading press releases isn’t your thing:

  • For conferences with a team that qualifies via an automatic bid, they will be able to replace that team if they are unable to participate.
  • The last four teams left out of the at-large pool will be designated as replacement teams, and can step into slots if needed before the tournament begins. Those teams will be ranked 1-4, and will replace any team that can’t participate.
  • The replacement teams will not travel to Indiana (where all tournament games will be played) unless needed, and will stay on-campus with testing. If they’re not needed in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll be No. 1 seeds in the NIT.
  • Once the bracket is announced on Selection Sunday, teams will not be reseeded and the bracket won’t change. Conferences can then replace their automatic qualifier until Tuesday, March 16, at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

You can read all the nitty-gritty details here, but these policies do make sense considering they’re attempting to hold one of the biggest events in American sports during a pandemic. Keeping the teams on campuses helps, and the students can practice and miss Spring Break knowing they’ll either be in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

Also: Today we learned the NIT is still happening. We know there’s no CIT, but are we getting a CBI as well?