Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The NCAA announced Thursday that it will cancel its annual men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments, set to begin with Selection Sunday on March 15, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: March Madness is a cultural phenomenon and one of the biggest sporting events in America. The NCAA was initially planning to play games without fans, but faced pressure to cancel after top-ranked teams Duke and University of Kansas suspended all athletic activities.

What they're saying:

"Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities."

The big picture: A string of major sports cancellations began Wednesday night with the NBA, which announced it would suspend its season indefinitely after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus. The NHL and MLS suspended their seasons on Thursday, and the MLB postponed spring training games.

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OPEC's balancing act: increasing output against smaller demand

An off-shore oil platform in California. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) coalition is entering the next phase of fraught market-management efforts that have repercussions for the battered U.S. oil industry.

Driving the news: The group yesterday agreed to press ahead with plans to begin increasing output as demand haltingly recovers.

More than 32 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 32 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

Why it matters: Tens of millions of jobless Americans will soon have a smaller cash cushion — as coronavirus cases surge and certain parts of the country re-enter pandemic lockdowns — barring an extension of the more generous unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month.

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Alumni fight to save college sports

Data: Mat Talk Online; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

242 collegiate athletic programs have been cut amid the pandemic, altering the careers and lives of thousands of student-athletes.

Yes, but: Some passionate alumni groups have opted to fight, banding together in hopes of saving the programs they helped build and continue to love.