NCAA March Madness sparks questions for current athletes

The Big Ten was the first to cancel their games. Other conferences quickly followed.

Leland Pan

The Big Ten was the first to cancel their games. Other conferences quickly followed.

The story of the NCAA Mens’ Basketball season has wrapped up. COVID-19 caused the cancellation of numerous sporting events in America. All professional sports leagues like the MLB and the new XFL have stopped.  March Madness, for both male and female players, was undoubtedly the most shocking event to be canceled on Thursday. Teams were given the option to play without spectators; in addition, very few players showed symptoms. Despite having the choice to continue the season without spectators, the NCAA committee canceled March Madness on March 12, 2020.

There were talks of playing games with no fans on March 9. No one canceled their games yet. Ohio was the first state to seriously combat the spread of the new virus among sports. They started to bring up the idea of playing with no fans in the postseason tournament but that plan was not put into place. 

Ivy League teams like Harvard and Princeton became the first conference to cancel the postseason tournament. Harvard was crowned the overall champion because of its record on Tuesday. The MAC and the Big West Conferences did not cancel yet, but it was announced that no fans could come and watch their teams play.

The NCAA committee announced on March 11, 2020, that March Madness will still go on. The only people that could watch the games were the family of the players and coaches. The College Basketball Invitational, another postseason tournament like March Madness, was canceled. This cancellation was an important factor in the demise of March Madness. The people who run the CBI are also the same people who run the Big Dance.

Later on in the evening, NBA All-Star center Rudy Gobert became the first confirmed athlete to contract the virus. Adam Silver and the NBA were quick and told everyone that they would suspend the regular season. Professional basketball was the first sport to do this and in the following days, every other sport would follow them.

A lot of NCAA conferences have their league tournaments scheduled on Thursday. This is the same day where the committee starts to put teams where they belong in the bracket. Before they could seed any teams, seven conferences canceled their tournaments. Those seven conferences are the biggest and most important in collegiate basketball. The Big East was the only conference to continue its regular scheduled game. However, the one game that they had going on was stopped during half time.

Duke University is the first school to stop its players from playing more games. They withdrew from March Madness and this is the point where fans realized the 2019-2020 season was over.  A little after 4 p.m., the NCAA sent out the message that March Madness will be canceled on Thursday.

Fans were understandably upset, this is the first time March Madness has been canceled. All those fans were left with are the highlights and memories of past seasons. 

For the players, the impact of the tournament’s cancellation will be more severe. For decades, underrated players have used the bright lights of March Madness as a way to boost their NBA draft stock. 

Players such as Stephen Curry, who has moved on to be a two time NBA Most Valuable Player, were ignored and completely overshadowed by other players during the NCAA’s regular season. 

That completely changed once the tournament began. Curry’s shooting became magnified to the public eye; scouts started to see him as a revolutionary player who would change the game forever, rather than a point guard who was simply too small and not athletic enough to have an impact in the league. 

Curry’s jump in draft stock earned him a starting spot on the Golden State Warriors, as well as an extra few million dollars added on to his rookie contract. 

Therefore, the tournament is the most important time of the year for many seniors hoping to make that jump into the NBA. 

Players such as Marquette’s Markus Howard were hoping to carry their team into the tournament and put on a show for the millions of fans watching. They would ultimately earn themselves a better position in the draft and more money in their pockets, similar to what Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro did last year.

Without this opportunity, many athletes will struggle to put their names on the draft boards. There will be a drop in rookie athletes in the league, as those who did not get the chance to attract attention to their name will most likely look to other options, such as playing overseas or training for an extra year. 

The cancellation of March Madness will impact many people’s lives for years to come, but the players who can not make themselves known will be the ones hit the hardest. With no March Madness, there is an increasing chance that there will also be no pre-draft interviews and no scouting combine, leaving players who are trying to make it to the NBA in disarray.