When the NCAA men’s tournament convenes in mid-March, Illinois won’t have far to travel as the organization today announced all games will be played in Indiana.
The greater Indianapolis area will host the entire 2021 men’s NCAA Tournament. CBS Sports first reported the news of the venues to be used for the 68-team, 67-game tournament.
Those venues are:
—Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers
—Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of Butler
—Indiana Farmers Coliseum, home of Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI)
—Mackey Arena, home of Purdue
—Assembly Hall, home of Indiana
—Lucas Oil Stadium (two courts), home of the Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium will not have two games scheduled simultaneously. Instead, it will have two courts set up to allow the games slated to be played in that venue to fluidly be scheduled against each other without overlap.
Ball State has been reserved as an emergency venue as well, sources told CBS Sports.
The NCAA still intends on starting the tournament in late March and wrapping up with the Final Four on April 3, with the national championship game on April 5. That will squeeze a condensed tournament timeline of approximately two weeks between the first game tipping and the championship ending, sources said. Fan attendance will not be determined for a number of weeks, one source added.
Selection Sunday is still scheduled for March 14. CBS Sports and Turner Sports, as usual, will broadcast all 67 games on CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV and via digital outlets.
“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 added in its statement that it is “partnering with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing within the controlled environment for players, coaching staffs, administrators and officials. The Marion County Health Department has approved medical protocols shared by the NCAA and will continue collaborating with the NCAA leading up to and during the championship.”
The host institutions for the 2021 NCAA Tournament will be the Horizon League, IUPUI, Purdue, Butler, Indiana and Ball State. As previously reported by CBS Sports, the Indiana Convention Center will house practices for the NCAA Tournament. There are plans for as many as 20 practice courts due to the amount of teams that will need them leading up to the first round.
The NCAA said Marriott would be a hotel partner in this unprecedented endeavor, thanks to the number of Marriott hotels around downtown Indianapolis and because “the 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.”
“We are making the most of the circumstances the global pandemic has presented,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said. “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.”
And while exact details on fan attendance aren’t yet decided, the NCAA said it does plan on allowing “a limited number of family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches” to attend the Big Dance.
Expect more details surrounding the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments to be decided and made public in a few weeks’ time.
I will have more on this obviously developing and interesting story for Illini Nation in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. Remember when Illini started the tournament the last time in Indianapolis, Bruce Weber’s Illini advanced to the 2005 national championship game.