March Madness on the Move

Toby Meyer, Reporter

March Madness, one of the most anticipated sports events every year, could be played in one single geographic area this season.

Normally the tournament is played all across the country featuring the country’s top 68 men’s college basketball teams. With COVID-19 a concern for traveling the U.S., the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), who runs the tournament, has brought forward the idea of playing the entire tournament in one central location.

On November 16, the NCAA announced they were relocating the 13 sites that were supposed to host the tournament. Indianapolis, Indiana was already scheduled to host the Final Four and national championship game this year. The D1 (division one) Men’s Basketball Committee is now in preliminary talks with the State of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis to host the entire tournament this coming season.

The NCAA’s national headquarters are located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Whether the location of their headquarters has anything to do with the relocation of the tournament, nobody knows.

Of course the NCAA and D1 Men’s Basketball Committee want the tournament to be conducted in the most safe and healthy way possible.

“My committee colleagues and I did not come lightly to the difficult decision to relocate the preliminary rounds of the 2021 tournament, as we understand the disappointment 13 communities will feel to miss out on being part of March Madness next year,” said Mitch Barnhart, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and University of Kentucky athletics director.

As of now, the tournament is scheduled to be kicked off on March 14, 2021 when the field of 68 teams will be selected on Selection Sunday. The first two games will be played among the last four teams who barely made it in on March 16 and 17. The first two rounds will be played March 18 through March 21. The Sweet Sixteen will be March 25 and 26 and the Elite Eight March 27 and 28. The Final Four will be held on April 3 while the tournament will come to an end on April 5, when the national championship game will be played in Lucas Oil Stadium.

“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.”

CBS and Turner Sports will still cover all 67 games of the tournament across CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV.