Kansas basketball: How the Coronavirus could impact the Jayhawks

Kansas basketball, Coronavirus (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Kansas basketball, Coronavirus (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

With the Coronavirus worry level rising, Kansas basketball’s postseason could be impacted by measures to control the spread of the virus.

Whether you think the worry level of Coronavirus is appropriate or not, there’s no denying that it could very well impact this year’s NCAA Tournament and by extension Kansas basketball. Many individual conferences have already taken measures to be extremely safe, while others have completely canceled their conference tournaments.

This morning, the Ivy League totally canceled both men’s and women’s conference tournaments. The regular-season champions, the men’s Yale team, and women’s Princeton team will receive auto-bids to the NCAA Tournament.

The Big 12 has also taken steps to help prevent the spread of the virus; however not as extreme as the Ivy League’s cancellation.

So far, the Big 12 has closed locker rooms to the media, but the games are still set to be played as normal. That’s a good sign, but things could be changed in an instant. Here’s the conference’s statement about their monitoring of the situation:

"“The Conference will continue to consult with the KU Medical Center as well as other local and state public health departments, host facilities and the NCAA leading up to and during these events to implement best practices and provide the most current information.”"

Considering the Jayhawks won the regular-season championship, Kansas would probably get the auto-bid in the event that the tournament is canceled. Given that the Jayhawks are already a virtual lock for the No. 1 overall seed, the rest from not having to play the extra games would probably be the biggest benefit.

All in all, the Big 12 Tournament getting canceled wouldn’t be a huge deal for Kansas basketball, but the NCAA Tournament being canceled would be a disaster.

The Jayhawks are the clear favorite to win it all. They’ve proved that on the court and in the stat sheet this season, so not being able to play that out would be devastating. While the scenario of a full-on cancellation isn’t likely at this point, there are other huge measures that could be taken that would impact the Tournament.

One idea that has been floated around is playing the game without fans in the stands. Ultimately, this is a better option than not playing at all, but it’d be strange, to say the least. Imagine watching a team win their Elite Eight game and celebrate on the floor in a completely empty arena, almost like a practice or scrimmage.

Here is the latest NCAA statement, released at about 5:00 p.m. central time on March 10:

"“The NCAA continues to assess how COVID-19 impacts the conduct of our tournamnents and events. We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19  advisory pannel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days.”"

Cancellation will likely be the last resort option, but it isn’t off the table. Hopefully, the “decisions” don’t involve scrapping the tournament this season given how great of a chance Kansas basketball has.

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Assuming everything goes as planned, Kansas basketball will begin Big 12 Tournament play on Thursday afternoon against the winner of Iowa State and Oklahoma State, which will be played tomorrow night.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.