Update on the latest sports
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Positive COVID-19 test for Virginia nixes ACC semifinal
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – The Atlantic Coast Conference has canceled its tournament semifinal game between No. 16 Virginia and Georgia Tech due to a positive COVID-19 test, quarantining and contact tracing within the Cavaliers program.
The league called off its second tournament game in two days on Friday morning, less than 12 hours before the Yellow Jackets and Seminoles were set to play the first of two semifinal games. That means Georgia Tech will advance to Saturday’s championship game to face the winner of the North Carolina-Florida State matchup.
The cancellation came a day after Duke withdrew from the tournament and ended its season amid its own positive test before facing the Seminoles in the quarterfinals.
The Cavaliers are the tournament’s top seed and were coming off a win against Syracuse on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Reece Beekman on Thursday. It’s unclear exactly how this could impact Virginia going forward into the NCAA Tournament.
The tournament will be held entirely in the state of Indiana in an attempt to create a controlled environment. To play 67 games over three weeks in Indiana, the NCAA is taking over four hotels, five arenas, one NFL stadium and an entire convention center. Teams will be mostly shielded from the general public, including friends and family.
The tournament protocols include requiring each member of a team’s travel party to complete seven negative COVID-19 tests before leaving for Indianapolis, and daily testing throughout the tournament.
Rockets say they’re trying to trade P.J. Tucker
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – The Houston Rockets say they are attempting to trade disgruntled forward P.J. Tucker.
Tucker traveled with the Rockets to Sacramento for Thursday’s game with the Kings but did not play and was on his way back to Houston before the game ended.
The 35-year-old is in the final year of a $31.8 million, four-year deal. The veteran forward has been pushing for a trade for the past few weeks and had grown increasingly frustrated by the organization’s apparent lack of attempts to make a deal happen.
AP source: Patriots completing 1-year deal to re-sign Newton
BOSTON (AP) – The New England Patriots are completing an agreement to re-sign free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.
The person told The Associated Press that the one-year deal is worth close to $14 million. The deal was first reported by The Boston Globe.
With the new pact, the Patriots bring back the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player after an up-and-down 2020 season in which he missed time after contracting COVID-19 and struggled to lead the offense as he tried to fill the void created by Tom Brady’s departure to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Patriots finished 7-9, missing the postseason for the first time since 2008 when Brady sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
New England could still pursue a long-term option at quarterback through the draft, but this move for now sets Newton up to be the front-runner to start again in 2021.
Newton signed with Patriots last June following his release from the Carolina Panthers after nine seasons.
Twins get government OK for up to 10,000 fans
UNDATED (AP) – The Minnesota Twins are the latest Major League Baseball team to receive government approval for fans to return to their games this season. They can play at Target Field for now in front of a capacity of up to 10,000 people.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and the state’s health department announced Friday a series of rolled-back COVID-19 restrictions. Large outdoor venues have a limit of 10,000 people, about 25% of what the ballpark holds. The Twins’ home opener is April 8 against Seattle. Most major league teams have already announced plans to open the gates at varying capacities for 2021.
Minnesota’s seated indoor venues can now admit up to 3,000 people.
In other baseball news:
– Major League Baseball will experiment with several rule changes in the minor leagues this season, including an automated strike zone, restrictions on defensive positioning and larger bases. The league said in a statement the “changes being tested are designed to increase action on the basepaths, create more balls in play, improve the pace and length of games, and reduce player injuries.” The league’s Automatic Ball-Strike System will be used at some Low-A Southeast League games, the closest that computer umpires have come to the majors. ABS has already been used in the independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League.
Olympic host Japan will not take part in China vaccine offer
TOKYO (AP) – Japan says it will not take part in China’s offer to provide vaccines for “participants” in the postponed Tokyo Olympics and next year’s Beijing Winter Games.
The International Olympic Committee has accepted the offer.
Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Japan had not been consulted by the IOC about the Chinese vaccines and that Japanese athletes would not take them. She said the vaccines have not been approved for use in Japan.
Marukawa pointed out that the Olympics are still being held as if vaccines are not available. They are instead relying on testing, masks, social distancing and keeping athletes in a “bubble.”