With a little over a week until the college basketball season begins, decisions on the men’s NCAA Tournament are starting to be made.
Monday evening, The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee came out with an announcement. According to their statement, the tournament will relocate all 13 of its previously determined round sites for 2021 to a single-host city. The reason for a single-host city will be in efforts to reduce the risks of COVID-19. The decision to hold the tournament in one location is similar to how the NBA conducted their playoff bubble.
“We have learned so much from monitoring other successful sporting events in the last several months, and it became clear it’s not feasible to manage this complex championship in so many different states with the challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible, and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”
This location has not yet been finalized. However, the NCAA’s announcement said it is in “preliminary talks” with the state of Indiana. Indianapolis is where the 2021 Final Four is already scheduled to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Several factors come into play on why Indianapolis may be the best venue for the massive tournament containing 68 programs. One is because of its recent history. Indy knows how to host the Final Four and has done so very well more than once. This coming Final Four would mark its eighth Men’s Final Four, the last one being in 2015.
Another reason would be because of its surrounding area. Besides the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, there are multiple gym possibilities locally. This include Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Farmers Coliseum, University of Indianapolis and Marian University. With many options, it’s safe to say that the bubble could extend beyond Marion County if needed. Playing in more arenas could accommodate more social distancing, and a chance to have some fans in stadiums.
Gavitt told reporters on a conference call the NCAA hopes to confirm Indianapolis as host city by Jan. 1.
Details on how a bubble would operate have not been released. However, the NCAA cited the importance of creating a “controlled environment competition and practice venues, medical resources and lodging for teams and officials all within proximity of one another.”
Overall, this is great news for the college basketball world. Although it remains to be seen whether or not the NCAA and Indianapolis can reach a deal on such an undertaking, it is clear that efforts are being made to continue through an unprecedented 2020-21 season.
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