Big East finally cancels tournament after allowing St. John’s, Creighton to play first half at the Garden

Big East finally cancels tournament after allowing St. John’s, Creighton to play first half at the Garden

St. John’s played Georgetown on Wednesday night in front of a sparse Madison Square Garden crowd impacted by coronavirus concerns.(Kieran Lynch/New York Daily News)

By Dennis Young, NY Daily News

As basically every single college conference canceled their men’s basketball tournaments over the coronavirus, the Big East continued play in New York City. The conference finally canceled their tournament after St. John’s and Creighton finished the first half.

Commissioner Val Ackerman said Thursday after the cancellation that she believes New York City is on the verge of restricting large gatherings.

St. John’s and No. 1 seed Creighton tipped at noon at Madison Square Garden, with a surprisingly large number of people in attendance despite an alleged mandate for no fans and only essential personnel. The two teams completed the first half, and St. John’s coach Mike Anderson gave a halftime interview to a Fox Sports sideline reporter.

Much of the lower part of MSG was filled with cheerleaders, staff, media, and what appeared to be parents and family.

The Big 10, Pac-12, SEC, ACC and Big 12 canceled their tournaments Thursday, as did the Atlantic 10 six miles away at the Barclays Center.

The Big East and Ackerman have consistently been the last to react to the coronavirus this week, barring fans later than most conferences and playing when the rest canceled.

As the game wound towards a completed first half, the NCAA’s chief medical officer said that a national shortage of coronavirus tests was putting the entire NCAA tournament at risk of being canceled.

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