Big Ten will play tourney games without fans starting Thursday

The Big Ten Conference announced late Wednesday that it will ban fans from its men’s basketball tournament starting on Thursday, the second day of action at the Indianapolis event.

The decision came less than two hours after the NCAA said it would play its March Madness games in empty stadiums.

The Big Ten said it will only admit student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams.

In addition, the Big Ten said all winter and spring sport competitions, including championship and tournament events will be limited to the same group of people.

“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis,” the conference said in a statement.

The tournament kicked off tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a game pitting Northwestern and Minnesota, with a matchup between Indiana University and Nebraska scheduled for 8:25 p.m.

On Tuesday, the Mid-American Conference and the Big West announced they would hold their tournaments—in Cleveland and Anaheim, California, respectively—without spectators.

However, there were no plans to restrict fan access to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s tournament, which is in its second day in Greensboro, North Carolina, or the Pac-12 tournament, which played the first game of its tournament in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference is to begin its men’s tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Big East is set to start at Madison Square Garden in New York. There were no plans to restrict fan access to those events.

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4 thoughts on “Big Ten will play tourney games without fans starting Thursday

  1. While I understand the need for precautions I also understand the financial impact this will have. I believe that we all need to be aware and wash our hands frequently but I think as a nation we have gone overboard.

  2. I hope the people who believe this is overkill will generously forego a hospital bed should they become that ill such that there’s room for others. If we ballpark the following figures for Indiana (just to keep the numbers easy): 6M people, 200 hospitals, and 400 beds/hospital, that’s 80,000 beds (max) for 6M people or room (no pun intended) for 1.3% of the population…and that’s if you were to kick out or bar anyone out who needs a hospital bed for non-COVID-19 purposes, say for surgery. The death rate for COVID-19 is in excess of 3% and so far, we don’t know of anyone with a natural immunity and we don’t know whether you only get it once and are immune, or if it’s going to mutate – remember, this is a virus, and our knowledge and ability to tinker with a virus is not what you’d expect it to be — look at influenza – multiple strains – the flu strain you had in January doesn’t preclude you from getting a different strain next week. And with flu shots, they don’t even cover every strain; instead, they practically toss a few darts and hope they’ve picked the right strains, even for a quad shot. Care to factor age into the equation? Let’s guess 15% of the Indiana population is aged 65+, so far seen to be the most vulnerable to COVID-19 (I think the magic age they’re tossing about is 60+). That’s 900,000 people considered to be the most vulnerable. Toss in the timetable of two weeks to cycle through a bout of COVID-19…
    All my numbers are obviously subject to scrutiny, but I’ve been as generous as I can realistically be and it doesn’t look good…
    And before I wrote this, Tom Hanks & his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for COVID-19 in Australia and the NBA has suspended the season indefinitely.

    1. A friend chided me for providing some really rough numbers so I thought I’d add one more factoid to slim down the number of hospital beds. In the wee hours today, MSNBC was comparing Italy & USA resource numbers. One number was the hospital bed count. Italy has 34 beds for every 10,000 people and the US has 29. 6,000,000 Hoosiers would mean Indiana has roughly 17,400 hospital beds.

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