Indiana to host ‘March Madness’ in entirety


NCAA’s March Madness at Lucas Oil Image: wsp

It’s final: The ‘March Madness’ basketball championship will be played in its entirety this year at the State of Indiana (US) with the City of Indianapolis to host the majority of games. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) made an announcement in this regard recently.

The Indianapolis-headquartered National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athletes from up to 1,268 North American institutions and conferences.

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, also known and branded as NCAA ‘March Madness’, is a single-elimination tournament played each Spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 colleges.

The NCAA first detailed the plans back in November 2020 and a tentative schedule has now been finalized. The decision to stage the showpiece event in one location has been taken to enhance the safety factor of the fixture keeping in view the dangerous COVID-19 situation in the United States.

‘Selection Sunday’ has been scheduled for March 4th 2021, and the NCAA plans on staging the ‘Final Four’ on April 3rd and 4th, with exact preliminary-round dates to be determined. Indianapolis had already been penciled in to stage the ‘Final Four’.

As per the new plans, games will be played on two courts inside the Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the National Football League (NFL) American football team the Indianapolis Colts. Further games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers National Basketball Association (NBA) team, as well as Indiana Farmers Coliseum (arena in Indianapolis), Mackey Arena (arena in Indiana) and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (arena in Bloomington, Indiana).

The Indiana Convention Center will be employed as a practice facility, with multiple courts to be set up inside the venue. Most of the tournament teams will be lodged in Marriott properties, which will be connected to the convention center via skywalks and within a controlled environment.

The Indiana Convention Center is a major convention center located in Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The original structure was completed in 1972 and has undergone five expansions. In total, there are 71 meeting rooms, 11 exhibit halls, and three multipurpose ballrooms.

The NCAA is teaming up with a local health provider to monitor COVID-19 testing within the controlled environment for players, coaching staffs, administrators, and officials.

The NCAA said it would continue to work in tandem with local officials to gauge whether it will be possible to welcome supporters in any of the above venues taking into consideration the fact that the US is on thin ice as far as the coronavirus situation is concerned.

A limited number of family members of each participating team’s athletes and coaches will be allowed to attend.

NCAA President Mark Emmert noted, “This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the State of Indiana. 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.”

Dan Gavitt, NCAA’s Senior Vice-President of basketball, added, “The 2021 version of ‘March Madness’ will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event. 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 has a storied history when it comes to staging major sporting events.”

Added Gavitt, “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 is also working with the City and the State to promote ‘Mask Madness’, an initiative to promote the health and safety quotients by adhering to physical distancing and making wearing of masks mandatory. Through the program, the NCAA will donate thousands of masks throughout Indiana leading up to the tournament.

The NCAA was forced to cancel the 2020 chapter of ‘March Madness’ as the coronavirus outbreak the world over hit the United States the hardest.

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