Duke, Kansas pull out of NCAA Tournament

Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski (center) talks to his players during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke won 88-69. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

If there was anyone holding out hope that the NCAA Tournament would go on as scheduled, Thursday afternoon all but dashed that notion. 

After major conferences such as the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Big East canceled their postseason tournaments, two of the nation’s top teams and blue-blood programs — Duke and Kansas — canceled any travel for their athletics programs due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

That means if there was a regularly-scheduled March Madness, the Blue Devils and Jayhawks would not partake. 

“Our highest priority at Kansas Athletics is to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” Kansas AD Jeff Long said. “Based on the recommendation of our medical professionals, we have canceled all athletic travel indefinitely. In addition, all home and away athletics events have been suspended indefinitely.”

“During this unpredictable time, Duke Athletics fully supports all measures to protect the health and welfare of the Duke family and beyond,” Duke AD Kevin White said. “While we understand this may be daunting to many, please know that this decision is entirely in the best interest of all student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans.”

Kansas is the No. 1 ranked team in the country while Duke sits at No. 10. 

On Wednesday, the NCAA initially planned to hold its tournament as scheduled with no or limited fans in attendance to combat the spread of coronavirus.

That was before the mass cancellations of conference tournaments while the NBA, NHL, MLB, and MLS suspended their respective seasons.