With growing fear about the spread of the coronavirus, a few hours ago the NCAA announced that the tournament will not have fans at any location:
Starting tomorrow, the Big 12 will not have fans either. They announced that decision after the NCAA’s announcement. Baylor will have 125 tickets to give out to fans and personnel of the university. At these games, normally there’s a good family turnout and several of Baylor’s administrators attend too. So there won’t be many tickets available.
This decision was made after numerous states and localities started to recommend/ban gatherings of too many people. Coronavirus, a disease that originated in Wuhan, China, has now been declared a global pandemic. The fatality rate of the disease is subject to some debate—but the United States government has recently said that it’s 10 times deadlier than the flu. If infected, Older individuals and people with preexisting health conditions are at particular risk.
The NCAA hasn’t clarified the role the media will have in covering the NCAA Tournament. I’m hoping to get credentialed to cover the games, but I can understand if they keep things limited on that side too.
All games will still be televised. For the Big 12 Tournament, the games are on the ESPN family of networks. The NCAA Tournament is broadcast on CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTv.
There are still plenty of moving parts. They’re, as of now, planning to play the games in the same host cities. But those games may be moved to smaller venues, especially the games set to be played in NFL stadiums.
We also don’t know how this might impact bracketing. With concerns about unpaid students traveling during an outbreak, the NCAA could elect to keep brackets as regional as possible. Maybe that means Kansas has to play in a loaded Midwest regional, given so many of the country’s best teams are in that area. Maybe it means Baylor ends up playing a much better or worse series of teams. But we really don’t know.
We’ll keep you updated on any changes that happen with media coverage or game location. David, Matt and I will podcast tonight to break this down as well.