March Madness without Duke


Duke basketball had a rough season since its beginning that plagued them all the way into March. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The scoreboards will look a little different this year at the NCAA March Madness Tournament. For the first time in 26 years, Duke will be missing the NCAA tournament, which could be both good and bad for those who are competing. For an already weird year, with the cancellation of last year’s tournament, this will be yet another way that 2020 and 2021 have become years for the books. 

On March 11, the Associated Press reported that the Duke Blue Devils had to immediately cancel their upcoming games and end their season. This was due to contract tracing and positive COVID-19 tests within the team, forcing them to pull out of the tournament. Athletic director Kevin White said, “Since last March when the pandemic started, we have listened to our medical experts and always put safety at the forefront of any determinations regarding competition. As a result, this will end our 2020-21 season.” 

This season has been a rough one for Duke basketball fans and this turn of events for the Blue Devils has forced the team games to be cancelled once again. 

This year the Blue Devils were struggling with a record of only 13-11 and 9-9 within the Atlantic Coast Conference. White then changed his tune, hoping to be able to be selected for the NCAA tournament. This year, there were a number of teams selected to be COVID-19 replacements if a positive case became a situation in one of the teams that had been scheduled to play. Fortunately this did not happen, but this left Duke out of chance to play. 

The pressure of playing the March Madness tournament has been strongly felt this year, and when a team like Duke drops out, the issue of media views continues to be discussed. After not having a tournament last year, discussions of having a tournament this year were very definite: It had to happen. To mitigate any problems that could have arisen, the selection committee chose alternates that will step in should positive cases become an issue.  

The rules are that a team and the accompanying staff have to test negative for seven consecutive days right before they are scheduled to play. Already, six referees have had to be sent home because of positive tests. 

The deadline is March 16 at 6 p.m., after which the alternate teams will not be able to fill in.

Media companies pay a lot of the bigger schools to play, and they have contracts that have forced many of these players to put their health on the line. One thing that has been highlighted this year is the importance of revenue to schools and companies who make lots of money off of audience views and advertisement. Without this revenue flowing in, media companies struggle to survive. Even so, players and coaches alike have done their best to ensure that games are played, but sometimes the unexpected happens.

Despite all of these uncertainties, teams, players and coaches alike are looking forward to another year of upsets and Cinderella stories. Everyone has a shot, and this means that anything can happen.