Binghamton men’s basketball on pause after Tier 1 positive test
As the Bearcats prepared to host NJIT last weekend, the team was forced to pause activities last Friday due to a positive COVID-19 test result from a Tier 1 individual. Tier 1 personnel are defined as players, coaches, trainers and anyone else that has direct contact with players. The NJIT series was postponed, as well as this weekend’s games against Maine.
The team is expected to return to action on Feb. 20, with a road trip to Maine on the schedule. Along with Maine, NJIT and Albany are the only teams BU has yet to face this season. It is unknown whether all of those games will be played, but Binghamton has played 15 games already, enough to qualify for the revised playoff format despite currently standing in last place.
All teams that play 12 Division I games will qualify for playoffs under new format
Two weeks ago, the AE announced its new basketball championship format for this unique season. All teams that complete 12 games against Division I opponents will compete in the tournament. On the men’s side, all but Vermont, Albany and Maine have completed 12 games, and none have played less than 9.
The semifinals and finals will be played at a predetermined neutral site. The top two seeds will receive a bye to the semifinals, and the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host playoff pods with the remaining teams to determine who will advance.
“This championship format is consistent with those guiding principles and rewards all of our student-athletes with a championship experience after an exciting but challenging regular season,” said AE commissioner Amy Huchthausen. “It’s critical that we balance the competitive aspects of championship planning while ensuring our teams can participate in a safe manner. We believe this approach will position us well in that regard while giving us flexibility if adaptation is necessary.”
That flexibility may already need to come into play regarding the women’s bracket. Eight of the 10 teams, including Binghamton, have already met the 12-game requirement, but there will only be seven teams eligible for the tournament due to decisions that have been made by three AE programs.
Hartford becomes third AE women’s basketball program to discontinue season
While all 10 AE men’s basketball teams are still expected to finish the season, three women’s basketball programs have discontinued their season. On Monday, the student-athletes at Hartford joined those of Vermont and UMBC by making the decision to halt their campaigns due to COVID-19 problems within their programs.
“I love these young women and admire all they have pushed through and fought for this year,” said Hartford head coach Morgan Valley. “With multiple quarantines, shut downs, missed holidays, cancelled/rescheduled games and many unknowns, we decided that this is the best path forward for our program at this point in time.”
While Hartford had already met the 12-game requirement to be eligible for the playoffs, the team struggled this season and was in last-place prior to suspending play. Vermont had played just six games, and UMBC completed eight. For those two, with the season nearing its end and team activities still paused, there were significant health concerns and barriers in place for them to complete 12 games and qualify for the playoffs.
“We support the decision made by these young women to step away from basketball temporarily,” said UMBC athletics director Brian Barrio. “We will continue to support them academically and with their physical and emotional health between now and next season.”
Binghamton split its series with UMBC and Hartford earlier in the season and did not play Vermont. It remains undetermined how the playoff format will work with just seven teams competing.
Fall and spring sports schedules unveiled
With just a few weeks remaining in the basketball season, spring and fall sports are on the horizon. When it was determined that fall sports would not be played as scheduled, the AE decided to postpone their men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey season to the spring.
Binghamton’s fall teams, along with the regular spring sports, are slated to begin play on Feb. 26 when men’s soccer hosts Albany. All teams are expected to play conference-only schedules. Both soccer teams will play a six-game schedule, and volleyball will play 12.
Men’s and women’s lacrosse are expected kick off their season on March 6, playing a nine-game slate. Baseball will begin its campaign on March 20 and will be playing four-game weekend series consisting of Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders. Softball will begin the follow weekend with a traditional three-game series.
Binghamton’s cross country, outdoor track and field and swimming and diving teams will also be competing this season with schedules yet to be finalized by the AE. BU’s men’s tennis, women’s tennis and golf teams will be competing as well, but they are not part of the AE.