The University of Virginia’s men’s basketball team, the 2019 national champion, pulled out of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on Friday after someone inside the program tested positive for the coronavirus.
Virginia’s withdrawal was the second in 24 hours for the conference tournament — Duke dropped out on Thursday — because of the virus. And it immediately put into some doubt whether Virginia (18-6) will be able to compete in the N.C.A.A. tournament, which is scheduled to begin next week.
In a terse statement on Friday morning, the A.C.C. cited “a positive test, subsequent quarantining and contact tracing” for the cancellation of Virginia’s planned semifinal game against Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech automatically advanced to the conference championship game because of the cancellation of the semifinal showdown.
But Friday’s announcement from the A.C.C., the morning after Virginia topped Syracuse with a buzzer-beater, raised the dispiriting possibility that the Cavaliers’ season could end early — without a chance to repeat as national champions. They won the tournament in 2019, when it was last played before its pandemic-prompted cancellation in 2020.
Although Duke has long been a national power, and although its exit from the A.C.C. tournament on Thursday unnerved the sport, Virginia’s troubles may have much larger implications for the season’s course. While the Blue Devils were 13-11, Virginia has been both the conference’s defensive powerhouse and a scoring juggernaut of accurate shooting. It was seeded first in the A.C.C. tournament and was likely to be one of the higher seeds in the N.C.A.A. tournament field.
But for all of its successes this season, Virginia struggled with the virus in December, when it paused team activities for 10 days.