Conferences where multiple teams join the tournament – as the ACC and Big 12 are likely to do – face a completely different scenario if one of their schools withdraws. If a team from a conference with more than one school in the group is unable to participate in the tournament, the organizers will review four designated substitute teams from across college basketball and place one in the open position.
The bracket is considered final on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. If a school later has to retire, it will not be replaced and its planned opponent will automatically advance.
Neither Duke, who struggled that season and finished 13-11, nor North Carolina A&T were considered contenders for the title. But absences from Kansas, Virginia, or both could significantly change course for the April 5th championship game.
Although Virginia (18-6) struggled with the virus in December, the team was a defensive powerhouse. Almost two years after winning their first national title, the Cavaliers were the top seed in the ACC tournament for the fifth time in eight seasons.
That Kansas dropped out of the Big 12 was less of a surprise. On Tuesday, the school announced that two players, including center David McCormack, would be out of the tournament due to virus logs.
Kansas, which was number 2 in the Big 12 tournament, has set a 20-8 record this season despite losing to a handful of ranked teams including Baylor, Gonzaga, Texas and West Virginia. The Jayhawks’ withdrawal on Friday automatically put Texas into the championship game of the Big 12 tournament, while Virginia’s exit allowed Georgia Tech to advance in ACC competition.
Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said Friday afternoon that his school hadn’t considered leaving the ACC tournament even if such a move would reduce the risk of his players contracting the virus. The two finalists, Florida State and Georgia Tech, are expected to appear in the NCAA tournament, as is North Carolina, which lost to Florida State on Friday night.