The cancelation of this year’s NCAA tournament broke the hearts of student-athletes and college basketball fans everywhere. The NCAA is doing all they can to make sure they don’t have to do the same thing in 2021. Monday morning the NCAA came out with an official announcement stating their plan for the 2021 Men’s’ Basketball Tournament. The plan includes instituting a bubble environment, similar to the NBA, with all games played in the Indianapolis area.
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The NCAA Tournament bubble is happening, more or less, as all games will be held in the Indianapolis area. Smart. https://t.co/CXemXt9nRy
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) November 16, 2020
There were a couple of key reasons the NCAA ultimately targeted Indianapolis as the bubble location for March Madness 2021. First of all, Indianapolis was already the host site for the final four. Also, Indy boasts several venues that are great for holding large indoor events: Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse.
“…NCAA staff are in preliminary talks with the State of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis to potentially host the 68-team tournament around the metropolitan area during the coordinated dates in March and April,” the statement said. “Indianapolis was already slated to host the Men’s Final Four from April 3-5, 2021…”
Much of this is contingent on the status of the coronavirus in the Indianapolis area. At this point, the state of Indiana is setting new case highs on a daily basis. That clearly isn’t a good sign, however, NCAA President Mark Emmert pledged that the association is looking into contingency plans in case they’re forced to change their plans.
“The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans,” Emmert said. “The Board of Governors and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”
Hosting the 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament in a bubble environment in the midst of a pandemic is easier said than done. There are still several question marks, however, a plan is a plan. Whether or not it gets executed is to be determined, but it is nice to see the NCAA taking the initiative to put a plan in place.