USC basketball’s first game in the Pac-12 Tournament against Arizona on Thursday afternoon will be held without spectators.
UPDATE 3/12: The Pac-12 has canceled the remainder of the 2020 conference tournament, joining other major conferences in suspending sporting competitions.
On Wednesday, USC basketball expected to find out who they would battle in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. Now they know.
Arizona bested Washington, 77-70, on Wednesday afternoon to advance to the next round and a date with the Trojans at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 2:30 p.m.on Pac-12 Network.
However, what the Trojans and Wildcats might not have expected was to find out their game will be played without spectators.
The Pac-12 announced on Wednesday that they will “conduct the remainder of our Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament…with only essential staff, TV network partners, credentialed media, and limited family and friends in attendance.”
“This decision has been made based upon new information, including the recommendation of the NCAA’s COVID-19 advisory panel,” the conference said in a press release.
All Pac-12 sport competitions will also adhere to the same spectator policies “until further notice.”
On Tuesday the Pac-12 indicated they would play the conference tournament as planned, but limited media access to locker rooms and informed fans of the use of increased health measures. However, by Wednesday the concern over the spread of the coronavirus prompted the NCAA to conclude that the March Madness tournament would be held behind closed doors. It was only a matter of time before the Pac-12 was expected to follow suit.
Despite the obvious health concerns, the Trojans will try to focus on the game on Thursday and their hopes of capturing the Pac-12 Tournament title for the first time since 2009.
To do that they will have to go through an Arizona team who they downed back on February 27. That 57-48 victory was the start of their three-game winning streak to end the regular season, a stretch which likely saved their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Arizona won the first meeting between the two teams, 85-80, in Tucson on February 6.