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How is the NCAA planning for COVID-19 uncertainty during March Madness?

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Posted at 3:10 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 16:16:24-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA tournament is set to begin Thursday, but the COVID-19 pandemic could create some challenges.

Kansas and Virginia are both included on the bracket, but the Jayhawks and Cavaliers had to drop out of their conference tournaments due to positive coronavirus tests.

According to the Washington Post, Virginia plans to stay in quarantine until Thursday. The team will fly to Indianapolis if it has no positive tests by that point.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Star reported the Jayhawks traveled to Indianapolis on Monday minus three players.

Here is a look at how the NCAA plans to adjust during an uncertain tournament.

How will the NCAA clear teams to play?

According to NCAA guidelines, teams must produce seven consecutive days of negative tests before they arrive in Indianapolis for the tournament, but they can travel with a smaller group if team members are ruled out due to positive tests or contact tracing.

What happens if a team drops out?

The first four teams left off the tournament bracket — Louisville, Colorado State, Saint Louis and Mississippi — will have the option to be included as replacements if a team from a multi-bid conference is unable to play. If a team from a single-bid conference — such as the Horizon League or Mid-American Conference — drops out, another team from that conference would take its spot.

How would that impact the bracket and what is the deadline?

The bracket will not be reseeded, and replacement teams will take the place of those that withdrew through Tuesday, two days before the tournament begins. After Tuesday, if a team has to drop out of the tournament, its opponent will advance to the next round via a no-contest rule.

2021 NCAA tournament schedule

  • March 18: First Four (Assembly Hall and Mackey Arena)
  • March 19-20: First Round (Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Assembly Hall and Mackey Arena)
  • March 21-22: Second Round (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum)
  • March 27-28: Sweet 16 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse)
  • March 29-30: Elite 8 (Lucas Oil Stadium)
  • April 3: Final Four (Lucas Oil Stadium)
  • April 5: National Championship (Lucas Oil Stadium)

RELATED | What happens if a team drops out of the NCAA tournament because of COVID-19?