The NCAA on Thursday announced policies for how it will handle potential coronavirus-related withdrawals from the Division I men's basketball tournament, saying it will not allow replacement teams after the tournament begins.
There will be no reseedings or bracket changes once the bracket is released on Selection Sunday, and replacement teams will only be introduced within 48 hours of the field's release. Potential at-large teams unable to meet the medical protocols by the first game of the NCAA tournament must notify the selection committee on the Saturday night before the field is announced.
Replacement teams will be determined in one of two ways, depending on whether the team withdrawing is a one-bid conference's automatic qualifier or from a multibid league.
One-bid leagues are able to designate a replacement team if their automatic qualifier is forced to withdraw. If a team from a multibid league, whether it's an at-large team or an automatic qualifier, is forced to withdraw, the last four teams not selected as at-large teams in the original field will be ranked 1-4 and designated as the replacement teams. Replacement teams will be placed in the same bracket position vacated by the withdrawing team.
Once the NCAA tournament begins on Thursday, March 18, there will be no replacement teams. As a result, forfeits could come into play.
"Once the tournament has begun, no team will replace a team that has a COVID-19 issue and can no longer participate in the championship," the NCAA's replacement policy states. "Its opponent would advance to the next round via the no-contest rule."
The NCAA tournament field will be announced on Sunday, March 14.