Despite Covid, March Madness Is Back

March Madness is back.

 After not having a tournament last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic the NCAA hopes to get through this tournament without any hiccups.

Duke, North Carolina A&T and Northern Iowa all have had to withdraw from their respective conference championship tournaments, forfeiting their opportunity to play in March Madness.

But since March Madness started on March 18 the NCAA have had both the mens and womens teams isolate in their hotel rooms when they are not practicing and playing. The teams have their meals brought to them and get tested daily. 

Covid-19 already has disrupted the tournament as of March 20 when Virginia Commonwealth University had a positive case of the coronavirus and had to forfeit against Oregon. 

“Since the tournament was canceled last year along with a lot of other sports it’s interesting to some seniors to return due to their canceled season,” Dimond senior Zach Jenkins said.

The NCAA’s rule for seniors who had their 2019-2020 season canceled is they can return for an extra year.  Some players on Uconn returned to finish their senior season.

“It’s cool that they are allowing that, I know a couple of people who couldn’t play their senior season for high school because of last year,” Senior Bryan Roussell said. 

Aside from Covid, the NCAA March Madness is living up to its name. As of the 22nd of March, the Big Ten has had seven out of eight teams lose already and the PAC-12 has had one loss being Colorado.

“The Big Ten has always been known as being extremely competitive for basketball, probably the second toughest conference aside from the ACC, but the fact that they are all losing shows that they might be a bit overrated,” Eric Coleman, a baseball coach at Dimond, said.

With the Big Ten holding two of the one seeds at the start of the tournament, they were a favorite to win the whole thing. The one seeds are Gonzaga, Michigan, Baylor and Illinois. 

“Michigan hasn’t played well the past couple of games and could see them being the first one seed out,” Coleman said. 

Michigan already beat Texas Southern and now has to face a tough LSU team. There have only been 20 teams to have a one seed to go on and win the championship. One of those one seeds, Gonzaga, looks to be the second team in history to walk in and walk out still undefeated.

“Everyone gets excited about Gonzaga every year. They always look good then end up losing in the elite eight. I’d take Oklahoma State over Gonzaga,” Jenkins said. “Cade Cunningham is a star and he can carry Oklahoma State to the title.”

Cunningham is the projected number-one overall pick in the NBA draft this year. The freshman, who averaged 20 points per game, is one of many players who NBA scouts will be looking at during this tournament. Others include Jalen Suggs, the consensus best point guard, and Corey Kispert, arguably the best shooter, both from Gonzaga, as well as Evan Mobely from USC and Luka Garza from Iowa. 

“Evan Mobely is almost like a Kevin Durant, really long and lengthy, not a lot of muscle but still manages to be dangerous anywhere you put him on the floor,” Coleman said.

With so much happening in the world today, hopefully the NCAA tournament can provide some sense of security or normalcy to people. The NCAA seems to be handling the Covid-19 situation well, which will allow many exciting players to prove themselves to NBA front offices and fans around the nation.