March Madness was always going to happen. Now we know where.
In a statement, the NCAA announced its plans for a single-state tournament for this year’s men’s March Madness.
Teams will be heading to the Hoosier state.
The NCAA chose its words carefully calling the event a “controlled environment.” ESPN said it would be “the largest bubble-like attempt by any major sport during the pandemic.” I’m no epidemiologist, but it doesn’t sound like we should be using the word “bubble” when we talk about March Madness 2021.
Sixty-eight teams will play in the Indianapolis region and squads will stay in hotels attached to the Indianapolis convention center. The NCAA says that Marriott, a corporate partner of the nonprofit (sigh), will host most teams.
“This is going to be complicated and difficult,” NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said. “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 is clearly taking this sort-of-bubble very seriously. Their main focus of the well-being of the student-athlete and not about profits, of course. That’s why it “will continue to work with local officials to determine the feasibility of having fans attend games at any of the venues.”
But don’t worry, Indiana residents. You don’t have to fret about college students from around the country coming to your town in a pandemic. The NCAA will generously promote “Mask Madness” before the tournament by donating “thousands of masks throughout the state.”
You’re safe! Be thankful!
Last month, the NCAA announced that the Women’s basketball tournament will be played in one region (San Antonio) as well. I guess the one-region, sort-of-bubble is better than what usually happens in March. But if this is our bar for safety in college basketball, that might be a problem.
Some college teams have already cancelled their seasons due to the coronavirus and University of Florida standout, Keyontae Johnson, was reportedly diagnosed with acute myocarditis after contracting COVID over the summer and collapsing on the court in December.
But the NCAA has money to make and men’s March Madness is its cash cow. The Tournament will tip off as usual. That’s assuming we get through a regular season first.