Mountain West tournament to be played without fans

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Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

The Utah State Aggies and the San Diego State Aztecs play during the Mountain West Conference Basketball Tournament championship game Saturday, March 7, 2020, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Utah State won the game 59-56. (Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)

Mon, Feb 22, 2021 (4:20 p.m.)

The Thomas & Mack Center will remain quiet through March Madness, as the Mountain West announced Monday that the upcoming conference tournament will be held without fans.

The women’s tournament is set to begin on March 7 and run through March 10, while the men play March 10-13.

The league cited emerging COVID-19 strains as the biggest reason for barring spectators.

“Given new information regarding variants of the coronavirus and the uncertainties involved, this is the most prudent course of action to mitigate risk to the most significant degree possible,” the statement read.

Last year’s Mountain West tournament was one of the few across the country to be played to its entirety. Utah State defeated San Diego State, 59-56, on March 7, 2020, claiming the title on a last-second 3-pointer by Sam Merrill. Just days later, the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and SEC had all canceled their conference tournaments due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On March 12, 2020, the NCAA officially canceled its national tournament.

UNLV has played nine home games at the Thomas & Mack Center this season; the first five had no spectators, while a limited number of family members have been allowed at the three most recent contests.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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