The Missouri Valley Conference was able to get all of their conference season games in for all 10 teams.
They were, in fact, the only conference to play all of their games. It only seemed poetic that the MVC games would be able to get all of their last few games in for Arch Madness.
That all changed March 5 on that Friday afternoon for the University of Northern Iowa.
Questions began to be asked around 5:30pm when the Panthers were not taking the floor. The fans that were waiting in line outside Enterprise Center were told the game was cancelled. Rumors of a positive case spread.
Around 7:30pm, the Valley finally released a statement regarding the madness unfolding.
They announced that UNI is to be pulled out of the tournament due to a positive case within their personnel, giving Drake the free advancement to the semifinals.
One and done. No do-overs, no second chances. What made matters more complicated was the rumor that the positive test was actually false.
I want to commend the Missouri Valley Conference for getting all of their games in. The times that we are living in are both strange and challenging.
Here is where I have a problem with it all. What happened to the University of Northern Iowa was unnecessarily brutal.
Teams are clawing and scratching for a fair chance of getting into March Madness. Why didn’t anyone think about doing a second test to be sure?
When the buzzer sounds off that the game is over, whoever comes out on top wins. That’s fair. Miscommunication between MVC and St. Louis health officials do not provide that same fairness.
Let me provide this scenario. The Valley is filled with teams that have the ability to surprise us on the court.
Valpo surprised many when they upsetted Loyola Chicago. While they did lose in the championship game, they still surprised us.
What if UNI surprised us and knocked off Drake? Yes, they were swept by Drake in the conference season. Yes, their record at the time told a different story. Yes, perhaps they would have been stopped in the semifinal round by either Missouri State or Valpo.
But what if? I might sound like a fool, but the Valley runs deep with plot twists and turns that we may not anticipate about at all.
This for sure was a plot twist, but this one seems to be more and more sickening to think about as time goes on.
This situation seems to be swept under the rug since this only happened during the quarterfinals. What happens if this situation occurs in the championship game? What if this happened to teams like Loyola Chicago or Drake?
Health officials had all of this time to come up with contingency plans and extra precautions, but they couldn’t even think up the idea of trying to re-test?
This situation can be applicable to any college basketball team. Think about yours and reflect.
A chapter was closed before it was even allowed to rewrite its chances.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.