- The NCAA has announced that all 67 games in the 2020 Men’s Basketball Championship playoff will be held in Indiana.
- Games will be played at multiple venues in Indianapolis and Bloomington.
- The 2020 NCAA Basketball Tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the COVID-19 forced cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament the organizers are taking no chances this year. There’s just too much at stake financially for the NCAA and the TV networks that broadcast the game to risk another cancellation this year. It’s doubtful that the sanctimonious scolds at the NCAA considered the well being of the sports betting community but it’s equally as important for bookmakers that ‘March Madness’ actually takes place this year.
To help facilitate that, the NCAA is going with something of a modified ‘bubble concept’. For now, it doesn’t sound as if it will be as restrictive of an environment as the NBA/NHL ‘bubbles’ from their previous seasons but they’re going to do their part to minimize the risk of travel by centralizing the tournament near their Indianapolis headquarters. Earlier today, the NCAA announced that the entire hoop tournament–all 67 games–will take place in Indiana with most to be held in Indianapolis. Additional games will be played in Bloomington and West Lafayette with the possibility of additional venues added down the road.
Here’s how the decision was announced from a press release issued by the NCAA:
The NCAA will stage the entire 2021 men’s basketball championship in Indiana, with the majority of the tournament’s 67 games taking place in Indianapolis. Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14, and plans remain to have the Final Four on April 3 and 5, with exact preliminary-round dates to be determined.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “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.”
The NCAA has enlisted ‘a local health provider’ who will be in charge of COVID-19 testing for players and support staff. The press release alludes to a ‘controlled environment’ without providing much in the way of specifics as to what this will consist of. The NCAA also indicates that their ‘medical protocols’ have been approved by the Marion County Health Department and that they ‘will continue collaborating with the NCAA leading up to and during the championship’.
The NCAA indicated that the 2021 tournament will be ‘hosted by Ball State, Butler, the Horizon League, Indiana, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue’ meaning they’ll provide facilities and free labor for the NCAA to conduct their multi-billion tournament. The Indiana Convention Center–adjacent to Lucus Oil Stadium– will be used as a practice facility and multiple courts will be set up inside. The NCAA also notes that one of their ‘corporate partners’, Marriott Properties, will provide accomodations for the majority of tournament teams.
As for the actual games, they’ll will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The press release also notes that ‘only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium’.
And as this will largely be a ‘made for TV event’–though the NCAA does mention that they’ll consider the feasibility of having fans attend–the coverage will be the same as any other year. CBS Sports and Turner Sports will continue to distribute all 67 games of the tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT, truTV and their digital platforms. This is crucial for the networks as well as the NCAA as it allows the organization to fulfill the terms of their broadcast deals.
NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt provided this quote:
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” said . “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.”
“This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that. We appreciate the collaboration among the Men’s Basketball Committee and staff, our hosts and local organizers, the staffs at each practice and competition venue, and our broadcast and corporate partners. We will all pull together and stage a terrific national championship.”
The NCAA also is working with the city and state to promote “Mask Madness,” an initiative to promote health and safety by practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. As part of this program, the NCAA will donate thousands of masks throughout the state leading up to the tournament.
This should finally turn the tide of the pandemic thanks to the clever ‘Mask Madness’ branding.