The Michigan men’s basketball team has had another home matchup against a top-10 opponent put on ice due to COVID-19.
A day after Saturday’s rivalry game against No. 10 Michigan State was shelved, the Wolverines announced on Sunday that their next scheduled contest, against No. 3 Purdue on Tuesday, has also been postponed due to COVID protocols within the UM program.
Per Big Ten rules, at least seven scholarship players and one coach are required for a team to compete. Michigan dipped below that number after medical testing on Friday night, which led to the showdown against the Spartans being postponed roughly eight hours before its scheduled tip-off. According to a release from Michigan, the Wolverines would still fall under the roster minimum for Tuesday’s game against Purdue.
Michigan (7-6, 1-2 Big Ten) has been dealing with COVID-19 issues since returning from a Dec. 30 loss at Central Florida. After flying back to Ann Arbor on Dec. 31, several Wolverines tested positive for COVID, according to sophomore center Hunter Dickinson.
Four players — freshman guard Frankie Collins, sophomore forward Terrance Williams II, senior forward Brandon Johns Jr. and walk-on forward Jaron Faulds — and one staff member all missed Tuesday’s loss at Rutgers due to COVID protocols. Sophomore guard Zeb Jackson also didn’t travel for personal reasons.
As of Friday morning, Michigan had hoped to play Michigan State as planned. At least two of the four players had cleared COVID protocols and were expected to be available Saturday, according to a program spokesperson. But that all changed following Friday night’s round of testing, which produced an undisclosed amount of positive results.
“We’ve been figuring out ways to navigate through what we’ve been dealt with COVID and the COVID protocol,” coach Juwan Howard said of his team’s recent practices with a shorthanded roster. “We’re trying to stay afloat and stay ready.
“I’ll be honest with you, it’s frustrating. But it’s frustrating for us all in the sports world and non-sports world.”
Under the Big Ten’s revised forfeiture policy, the conference reviews every game impacted by COVID and determines whether it can be rescheduled, declared a no contest or deemed a forfeit.
The policy states that a game can be postponed if a team doesn’t have a minimum number of competitors available (seven scholarship players). If a team has a COVID outbreak and the game can’t be made up, it’ll be considered a no contest. The Big Ten also said that a team can play with lower numbers if approved by medical personnel.
Michigan will work with the Big Ten office to find a makeup date for both games, which could be challenging. Purchased tickets to the postponed contests will still be valid “if and when the games are rescheduled,” according to Michigan’s release.
The Wolverines, as of now, are scheduled to return to action on Friday at Illinois. Barring any more schedule changes, Michigan will visit Michigan State (13-2, 4-0) on Jan. 29 and Purdue (13-2, 2-2) on Feb. 5.