Conferences that place multiple teams in the tournament — as the A.C.C. and Big 12 are likely to do — face an altogether different scenario if one of their schools withdraws. If a team from a conference with more than one school in the bracket will not be able participate in the tournament, organizers will look at four designated replacement teams from across college basketball and slot one into the open position.
The bracket will be considered final at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. If a school must withdraw anytime afterward, it will not be replaced and its planned opponent will automatically advance.
Neither Duke, which struggled this season and finished at 13-11, nor North Carolina A&T was considered a title contender. But absences by Kansas, Virginia or both could meaningfully alter the course toward the championship game on April 5.
Although Virginia (18-6) struggled with the virus in December, the team has been a defensive powerhouse. Almost two years after the Cavaliers won their first national title, they were the top seed in the A.C.C. tournament for the fifth time in eight seasons.
That Kansas pulled out of the Big 12 tournament was less startling; on Tuesday, the school announced that two players, including the center David McCormack, would be sidelined for the tournament because of virus protocols.
Kansas, which was the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament, has built a 20-8 record this season, though it has lost to a handful of ranked teams, including Baylor, Gonzaga, Texas and West Virginia. The Jayhawks’ withdrawal on Friday automatically moved Texas into the Big 12 tournament’s championship game, while Virginia’s exit allowed Georgia Tech to advance in the A.C.C. competition.
Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech’s coach, said Friday afternoon this his school had not considered exiting the A.C.C. tournament even if such a step would mitigate the risks of his players’ contracting the virus. The two finalists, Florida State and Georgia Tech, are comfortably projected to appear in the N.C.A.A. tournament, as is North Carolina, which lost to Florida State on Friday night.