It is official. As a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NCAA announced on Thursday that all its winter and spring championships have been cancelled. This includes the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
Truly devastating news for the country. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been held every year since its inception in 1939. The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has been held every year since it began in 1982. Our beloved March Madness is gone. No brackets, no Cinderella stories, no tournament and no champion. No other sporting event registers this much excitement and anticipation. It is now gone and we are left with no other sports to distract us.
Consider the student-athletes. An unpredictable month of basketball where they are practicing and playing for their teammates, their coaches, their school and for some, their careers. These players have played everyday together since November. Going through all the ups and downs of the season, just to have it abruptly stopped, right before all the hard work and dedication truly came to fruition. No longer able to represent their school in what could be the biggest opportunity in their lifetime. Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari explains his thoughts on the situation to ESPN.
All the hours of grinding these student-athletes went through just doesn’t seem as satisfying. Because in the tournament, team records are tossed out. The teams they beat, the tournaments they won, the rankings they finished with, none of that matters. It is all about who can win six consecutive games. Calipari explains it best. These kids do not get to experience those rush of emotions of a season ending in a game. In the tournament, there is only one team that finishes the season with a win. Those are the champions. The 2019-2020 season now has no champion.
This is upsetting to everybody involved. Leading up to the cancellation, there were signs that the tournament was not going to be played. Once Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus and the NBA season was suspended, it was only a matter of time. Villanova coach Jay Wright gives a realist perspective on the situation.
It is heartbreaking to say the least. This may have been the most madness we’ve experienced in March and the tournament never began.
Another factor to consider is how this cancellation will play into the NBA Draft. Normally, student-athletes can boost their draft stock in the tournament. For example, Donte DiVincenzo was a player for Jay Wright at Villanova in 2015-2018. In his final season at Villanova, DiVincenzo only started 10 of the 40 games they played that season. He did not start a single game in the NCAA Tournament. but their season ended with a national championship, where the Wildcats defeated Michigan. DiVincenzo had a season high 31 points and was rewarded the MVP of the game. Following his historic contribution off of the bench, he was drafted number 17 overall in the NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Perhaps the NCAA will give some thought to seniors who had their finals years snuffed out by this virus; we will wait and see.