CHARLOTTESVILLE—New year, same issues.
Saturday’s matchup between No. 23 Virginia and No. 24 Virginia Tech at John Paul Jones Arena was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test of a UVA staff member and subsequent contact tracing, the schools and the ACC announced Friday.
The Hokies (8-1, 2-0 ACC) and Cavaliers (5-2, 1-0) had been scheduled to play at 2 p.m. Saturday, the first of two regular-season meetings between the rivals. Instead, shortly after 4 p.m., the announcement was made that the game was off. No makeup date was announced.
The new year has begun with many of the same postponements and cancellations that plagued the start of the 2020-21 season.
Virginia was forced to halt its program for two weeks in December following a positive test. That led to the cancellation of games against Michigan State and Villanova, a postponement of the team’s game against William & Mary, and the addition of a neutral-site game against No. 1 Gonzaga in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Hokies have been COVID-19 free to date and played their full slate of nine games in November and December, though their Nov. 28 game against Temple in Connecticut had to be replaced with a matchup with then-No. 3 Villanova, a game Tech won 81-73 in overtime.
“Feel fortunate, feel incredibly lucky, honestly, to get to the end,” Tech coach Mike Young said after the team completed its nonconference schedule. “What a bizarre year, but fortunately for the Hokies, we’ve steered clear.”
In all, ACC teams have played 89 of 105 scheduled games. This is the third conference cancellation and second for Saturday, joining the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game. That contest had to be postponed due to a positive test and contract tracing within the Pittsburgh program.
The pandemic began disrupting college sports in March. The ACC basketball tournament was in progress when it was canceled on March 12. UVA, which had earned a double-bye, had not yet played a game at the event.
Virginia Tech had already been eliminated.
The NCAA basketball tournament was also canceled.
The Tech-UVA game would have been a matchup of two of the top five defenses in the ACC. The Cavaliers, who have led the nation in scoring defense in five of the past six years, currently rank third in the league, giving up 60.7 points per game, a number skewed by the 98 points they allowed in a loss to No. 1 Gonzaga.
The Hokies give up the fifth fewest points in the conference at 64.2.
The winning team in the series has scored 65 points or fewer in four of the past five meetings between the teams.
It would have been just the fifth time in the history of the rivalry that the two teams meet with both ranked in the Top 25. UVA has won three of those previous four matchups.
The virus caused similar disruptions during the college football season. Virginia and Virginia Tech were scheduled to play for the Commonwealth Cup on Sept. 19 in Blacksburg, but a COVID outbreak within the Hokies’ program forced that game to be postponed until December.
When it was finally played, Tech won 33-15, avenging last year’s loss to the Cavaliers.