One of sports’ very first casualties of the coronavirus pandemic is planning to (safely-ish) return to action in 2021.
The NCAA announced on Monday its plan to hold the entire 2021 men’s basketball championship in the state of Indiana, with the majority of the tournament’s 67 games taking place in Indianapolis (venue details below).
The news — which is a boon for Turner Sports and CBS Sports, whose outlets telecast the men’s match-ups — comes almost 10 months after last year’s bout of March Madness, including the women’s hoops tournament, was benched by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14, and the Final Four rounds are slated for April 3 and 5. Dates for the preliminary rounds are as yet to be determined.
Games will be played on two courts (though one at a time) 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 Indiana Convention Center will be used as a practice facility, while Marriott properties (an official NCAA corporate partner) will house most of the tournament teams. (The hotel properties are connected to the convention center via skywalks and within a controlled environment.) All teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms, as well as secure transportation to and from competition venues.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement. “We have worked tirelessly to reimagine a tournament structure that maintains our unique championship opportunity for college athletes. The reality of [this] announcement was possible thanks to the tremendous leadership of our membership, local authorities and staff.”