The NCAA is holding its 2021 men’s college basketball tournament entirely in the state of Indiana because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced last Monday.
When the NCAA decided to relocate 13 of the tournament preliminary round sites in late November and said they were in discussions with Indiana about hosting the annual competition, it was essentially a forgone conclusion but Monday’s announcement made it official.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a news release. “We have worked tirelessly to reimagine a tournament structure that maintains our unique championship opportunity for college athletes. The reality of today’s announcement was possible thanks to the tremendous leadership of our membership, local authorities and staff.”
All 68 teams who qualify for the tournament this year will congregate in Indiana for one of the most spectacular events in all of sports and play the majority of games at different venues around Indianapolis.
Specifically, games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum as well as Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, the NCAA said.
The tournament will be hosted by a number of local colleges and universities – Ball State, Butler, Purdue and others – and some games are taking place at those school’s arenas, according to the release.
In Indiana – basketball isn’t just what we do, it’s a way of life. We are made for this. #FinalFour pic.twitter.com/xhU02RL1Y1
— NCAA Final Four (@FinalFour) January 4, 2021
The Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility and teams will be housed at surrounding Marriott hotel properties, with each school getting its own floor as well as meeting and dining rooms, that are connected with the convention center through skywalks, according to the release.
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said in the release. “With the direction of the Men’s Basketball Committee, we are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented. We’re fortunate to have neighbors and partners in Indianapolis and surrounding communities who not only love the game of basketball as much as anyone else in the country but have a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events.”
In the announcement, the NCAA did not say the tournament would be a complete bubble, like the NBA did for its playoffs this past summer, but described it as a “controlled environment.”
Additionally, the NCAA said it was partnering with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing for players, coaching staffs, administrators and officials, but did not offer specifics on how frequently those groups would be getting tested.
As of right now, only the family members of participating student-athletes and coaches will be allowed to attend games, the NCAA said.
Selection Sunday is scheduled for March 14th and the Final Four will still take place on April 3rd and 5th at Lucas Oil Stadium, but exact dates for the preliminary round games are to be determined, according to the release.
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Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Basketball” by NCAA Basketball.