NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 12: A general view inside the empty arena before the start of the quarterfinals of the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2020 in New York City. Games will be played without fans amid growing concern over the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Although the Big East was initially hesitant to cancel its tournament, the conference pulled the plug on Thursday afternoon.

St. John’s and Creighton took the floor on Thursday afternoon for a Big East Tournament quarterfinal matchup. The ninth-seeded Johnnies took a three-point lead into halftime, but Creighton would have no time for a second-half comeback.

At halftime, the Big East decided to cancel its conference tournament, joining the rest of the NCAA’s major conferences.

“Following a call with our Presidents and Athletics Directors and additional consultation with the City of New York, the BIG EAST Conference has cancelled the remainder of our men’s basketball tournament, effective immediately. We believe the decision is in the best interests of our participants and fans,” the conference said in a statement.

Initially, the league announced a restricted attendance policy and planned to continue with games as scheduled. However, after two members of the NBA’s Utah Jazz—Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell—tested positive for coronavirus, the sports world began to unravel. The NBA is taking a hiatus while several teams quarantine.

In fact, Gobert, Mitchell, and the Jazz were in Madison Square Garden for a game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, March 4. It’s no surprise that the Big East is canceling the tournament rather than bringing more collegiate players into the locker rooms at MSG.

The NCAA Tournament has not been canceled or postponed yet, but it’s hard to believe that it will proceed as scheduled. The NCAA already made the unprecedented decision to bar fans from attending games. It wouldn’t be shocking to see even more drastic measures after the last 24 hours.

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