2020-21 Season

‘They all felt comfortable’: Why Michigan played on Friday night

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Michigan basketball team stood on its side of the court waiting, antsy. Mike Smith jumped up to touch the net. If someone was to pull a Rudy Gobert-style cancelation of this game, they were running out of seconds. Eyes turned to a Purdue huddle that had yet to be broken. 


“Definitely,” Isaiah Livers said. At first, he didn’t want to be in West Lafayette tonight. He heard the news that Purdue had a positive COVID-19 test and thought it wouldn’t be safe to play. But there he was on Friday night, talking into a Zoom camera after scoring 22 points to lead Michigan to a 70-53 win past the Boilermakers. The Wolverines are in first place in the Big Ten. Exactly what, if any, the ramifications are of playing on Friday will come into focus over the next two weeks.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the game that Stefanovic was symptomatic on Wednesday morning, despite testing negative, and stayed in his room all day, returning a positive antigen test on Thursday morning. The Boilermakers played at Ohio State on Tuesday night — Stefanovic was isolated after that.

On Michigan’s request, Purdue’s entire team underwent PCR tests ahead of Friday’s game (as opposed to the antigen tests the Big Ten runs daily), which all came back negative. Chris Forman, the spokesman for the team, tweeted ahead of tipoff: “We feel VERY confident in our protocols.”

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