While the VCU Rams were poised to take on the Oregon Ducks tonight, in the first round of the NCAA’s men’s tournament, the game, which was to air on TNT, was ruled a no-contest due to “COVID-19 protocols.” Any March Madness dreams on the part of the Rams abruptly ended there.
“This decision was made in consultation with the Marion County Public Health Department. As a result, Oregon will advance to the next round of the tournament,” said the NCAA in a statement. “The NCAA and the committee regret that VCU’s student-athletes and coaching staff will not be able to play in a tournament in which they earned the right to participate. Because of privacy issues we cannot provide further details.
While the organization did not provide specific details, regarding the breach of safety protocols, VCU coach Mike Rhoades noted that multiple positive Covid tests had come back to the team, over the course of the last 48 hours. The rules of the NCAA tournament require that each team has at least five eligible players on the court, in order for a game to proceed.
“We are devastated for our players and coaches. It has been a dream for all of us to play in the NCAA Tournament,” said Rhoades, in a statement. “We appreciate the care of our doctors and administration this year, and all our efforts and attention will be put into our players at this time.”
While the Rams were left reeling following tonight’s announcement, the tournament is moving on. The Ducks’ next match-up will take place on Monday, opposite the Iowa Hawkeyes.
At time of reporting, Missouri is currently facing off against Oklahoma, as Norfolk State confronts Gonzaga. Later tonight, UCLA has its first-round match with BYU, as the Texas Longhorns take on the Abilene Christian Wildcats. The latter game kicks off at 9:50 p.m. ET. Originally slated to air on TruTV, it will now be simulcast across TNT (in place of the scrapped VCU-Oregon face-off) and TruTV.
— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 20, 2021