MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s the start of the college basketball season, and many early tournaments are being canceled because of COVID-19, but not the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, Dakota where the Memphis Tigers are set to tip-off their season Wednesday.
The Tournament going ahead despite six of the eight original teams pulling out for fear of quarantining after traveling to a hot spot or having coronavirus concerns of their own. Wichita State of the American Athletic Conference is the latest team to withdraw. The shockers arrived in Sioux Falls Monday but immediately had to return home after several members of the traveling party received positive results at the airport.
Virginia Commonwealth is taking their place as a last-second replacement. The Rams were scheduled to play in the Volunteer Classic at Knoxville, but that tournament shut down Monday after positive tests at Tennessee. Pre-Season ranked teams Duke, Ohio State, and Creighton, along with Texas A&M, Utah, and Dayton all withdrew from the Crossover Classic. The only ranked team left in the field is Number 15, West Virginia.
Even with all the questions surrounding traveling to play a tournament in a state where the COVID-19 positivity rate is among the highest in the world, Tigers Head Coach Penny Hardaway said the Crossover Classic is taking every precaution to make sure the players are safe.
The Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls is part of the Sanford Medical Center, and everything else somewhat mirrors the successful NBA Bubble in Orlando. Penny said, “Now you see the system, and how they have everything sectioned off in there. We are in our own little space. Everyone is wearing masks. The Tournament has done a great job in how they set it up, so we are not walking around on pins and needles. But one thing I’ve told the guys is, the guys they know from the other teams, try not to have a lot of interaction with those guys face to face. Maybe over the phone. but not face to face.”
Quick notes, Hardaway said JUCO transfer forward Ahmad Rand did not make the trip due to contact tracing. Guard Lester Quinones is experiencing some knee tendinitis but should be good to go. The Tigers take on St. Mary’s Wednesday, tip-off is at 1 pm on ESPN-2.