The Tennessee Volunteers will not be playing in the men’s basketball 2020 SEC Tournament in Nashville, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Less than two hours before Tennessee basketball was set to open the second round of the SEC Tournament, the league cancelled the remainder of the games due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Vols’ postseason prospects are now in question as a result.
UT would have gone up against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville at 1 p.m. ET. That game would have been to determine who would face the Kentucky Wildcats, who won the regular season SEC Championship, on Friday.
The cancellation comes a day after the league initially announced plans to continue the event with just no fans in attendance. It made the announcement to go ahead and cancel the events on its official Twitter account shortly before noon Thursday.
ALERT: Based on the latest developments and the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Southeastern Conference today announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020 Men’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) March 12, 2020
At 17-14 and 9-9 in the SEC, Rocky Top’s impressive schedule strength meant they had a chance to get onto the NCAA Tournament bubble with a decent SEC Tournament run. However, they would have to make a run, and there was a legitimate chance they would have to actually win the tournament to make the Big Dance.
Of course, the status of the NCAA Tournament is now in question as well. At the moment of the announcement that the SEC would cancel its tournament, March Madness was still set to be played as scheduled with just limited fan attendance.
With this move, the SEC joins the Big Ten, the AAC as conferences to cancel their tournament today. The NBA suspended play due to an outbreak Wednesday night. Leagues like the SEC and the ACC were taking some heat for not making the decision initially. After the SEC made its decision, the ACC eventually cancelled its tournament as well.
How cancelling the SEC Tournament impacts the Vols going forward remains to be seen. They might have a chance to make up this tournament, but if they don’t, then Rick Barnes’ team has no hope at reaching the NCAA Tournament, regardless of whether or not it is delayed. However, the dangers of COVID-19 are a much bigger deal, and they should be handled first.