With news of the UCLA men canceling their games against Arizona and ASU released earlier in the day, the question was whether Arizona’s women would face the Bruins on Jan. 2. That answer was revealed when UCLA postponed the game nine days before it was to be played.
The Wildcats had to cancel their last game against Texas due to Covid-19 protocols within their own program, but they had not yet announced anything about the games at USC on Dec. 31 or the game at UCLA two days later. Now, the only question is whether Arizona is able to emerge from its own Covid-19 issues before the Wildcats are set to play the Women of Troy.
The positive tests and contact tracing shut down Arizona on Dec. 18. Under the standard 10-day quarantine, they could be able to play USC on Dec. 31, but that depends on how many players and coaches were actually positive for the virus and how many were simply caught up in contact tracing protocols. The rules adopted by the league on Dec. 22 require at least seven available scholarship players and one coach.
UCLA has now canceled or postponed six straight games with USC, ASU, and Arizona being added to the three games at the end of their nonconference schedule. The USC game has been rescheduled for late January.
The Bruins have only played eight games so far this season. Postponements and cancellations could be problems for both UCLA and Arizona if the NCAA does not rescind the requirement that teams play 25 games to be eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
As of Dec. 20, the NCAA told the Pac-12 conference that the 25-game rule was still in effect. However, they did allow for the possibility that it might be rescinded. Last year, teams had to play 13 games over the course of the regular season and their conference tournaments to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
As relayed by the conference, the NCAA informed the Pac-12 via email, “Keep in mind that the committee is continuing to monitor and could request a lowering of the minimum number similar to last year based on the number of COVID cancellations, but as of today that number for championship participation is still 25.”
With only eight games played by UCLA, it needs to compete in at least 17 during Pac-12 regular-season and conference tournament play to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. After postponing games against USC and both Arizona schools, the Bruins are already up against the limit if they cannot reschedule the two games against the Wildcats and the Sun Devils. For Arizona, the number to complete during Pac-12 play is 15. One has now been postponed.
Last season, the Pac-12 built an extra day into the Women’s Pac-12 Tournament to allow schools to play makeup games in Las Vegas between the semifinals and finals. No one chose to take advantage of it because the only schools that would have benefited were out of the running for the NCAA Tournament already. That extra day was retained this season, but the conference has not announced whether makeup games can be played that day.