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Big Ten cancels men’s basketball tournament amid COVID-19 concerns

After announcing it is limiting fans Wednesday, the conference canceled its tournament the following day.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Nebraska vs Indiana Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Less than 24 hours after announcing the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament would be closed to fans, the conference has completely canceled the event as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“The Big Ten Conference will use this time to work with the appropriate medical experts and institutional leadership to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the conference said in a statement released Thursday. “The main priority of the Big Ten Conference continues to be the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all developing and relevant information on the COVID-19 virus.”

The decision comes after the NBA suspended its season Wednesday night after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was diagnosed with coronavirus. Donavan Mitchell has since been confirmed to have it as well.

Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg was then visibly sick on the bench during the second game of tournament between the Cornhuskers and Indiana. He was rushed to the hospital following the game, and although it turned out to not be coronavirus, the incident was likely eye-opening for the league.

Most major conferences canceled their tournaments Thursday. The NCAA has yet to release a statement regarding whether the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be postponed or canceled after announcing the event would be held without fans.

For now, it’s uncertain whether Maryland men’s basketball has played its last game of 2019-20 season.

“I understand and respect the conference’s decision to cancel this year’s Big Ten tournament. The health and safety of our student-athletes and entire program is paramount. This is an unprecedented situation that is much bigger than basketball,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “I remain hopeful that a resolution will be found to provide our student athletes with the opportunity to complete their season.”