COVID prompts schedule shuffling: Tar Heels now face No. 21 Kentucky on Saturday

Published 4:24 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

Associated Press

No. 21 Kentucky will now face North Carolina on Saturday in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas after each of their opponents had to drop out due to COVID-19 issues.

The teams announced the matchup Friday after fourth-ranked UCLA canceled its game against the Tar Heels. The Bruins have paused team-related activities, and the status of their future games is undetermined. They previously called off a home game against Alabama State set for this week.

The other game that was part of the Vegas event, a matchup between No. 15 Ohio State and Kentucky, was canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program.

At least 19 men’s basketball games and 36 women’s basketball games have been canceled or postponed this season due to COVID-19 protocols as of Friday afternoon. It is a number that seems sure to grow as the nation grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases.

Second-ranked Duke announced Friday afternoon that it would play Elon on Saturday after having a second opponent cancel due to COVID-19 concerns.

The Blue Devils were originally slated to play Cleveland State before that program had to cancel and pause team activities. Duke then scheduled Loyola Maryland, only to say that game was off as well due to positive tests within the Greyhounds program.

Duke ended up bringing in Elon, located about 40 miles west of Durham. Elon is coached by Mike Schrage, who worked nine seasons under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.

Syracuse also announced it is canceling its next two games due to COVID-19 protocols. The school will determine whether Saturday’s scheduled game against Lehigh and next Tuesday’s scheduled game against Cornell can be made up later.

“Our top priority is safeguarding the health and well-being of our student-athletes, athletics staff, fans and the campus and central New York communities,” Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said. “While it is disappointing to have to postpone any athletic event, this is the right decision given the increasingly difficult public health landscape.”

Colorado State said Friday it was “unable to travel” to Fort Worth, Texas, for its Saturday game against Tulsa due to public health recommendations and COVID-19 concerns for the team. The school said the status of future games will be determined later, including a Tuesday matchup against No. 6 Alabama.

Schedule changes also include Hampton withdrawing from the Legacy Classic matchup against North Carolina Central on Saturday, with Hampton pausing team activities due to protocols. Delaware State is replacing Hampton in the event featuring HBCUs.

On the women’s side, Middle Tennessee’s game at Belmont on Sunday is off due to issues within the Belmont program. No makeup date has been scheduled.


More AP sports: and