The NCAA has announced that the 2021 March Madness tournament will take place exclusively in the state of Indiana, specifically the city of Indianapolis. Following last year’s cancellation, the NCAA was determined to have a championship tournament in 2021. The tournament was originally set to occur in 13 different states across the country but the need for a controlled environment pushed the NCAA into making an unprecedented decision. After announcing on November 16th that they would begin searching for a single location, Indianapolis emerged as a front runner as it was already scheduled to host the Final Four and national championship game.
Aside from already being slated to host the final two rounds of the tournament, the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis are great locations to host the country’s premier college basketball tournament. Home of the Pacers in the NBA and a variety of NCAA teams, Indiana boasts of the most basketball-hungry fanbases in the country. There will be little to no challenges getting the local fans to support hosting the NCAA’S 67 game tournament. As stated by the official March Madness Twitter account, “In 49 states, it’s just basketball. But this is Indiana”. After hearing the news in November about the NCAA selecting a single location, Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett tweeted, “Indianapolis has a reputation for hosting the most successful major sporting events in the country – including eight Final Fours. Our city also boasts some of the nation’s top public health professionals, whose expertise will be crucial in planning for a safe tournament”. The NCAA hopes the excitement of the local hoops fans will extend to fanbases across the country, as they will continue to broadcast all tournament games on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV.
The NCAA will utilize six different locations in the Indianapolis area to showcase the nation’s top 64 teams. Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, has hosted Final Fours in 2010 and 2015, making the massive 70,000 person capacity stadium a no-brainer even in the age of minimal fans. Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, has never hosted a tournament game but the downtown location and already installed basketball facilities make it another easy choice for the NCAA. The remaining four locations include Hinkle Fieldhouse (home of the Butler Bulldogs), Indiana Farmers Collesiuem (home of the IUPUI Jaguars), Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (home of the Indiana Hoosiers), and Mackey Arena (home of the Purdue Boilermakers). The Hoosiers and Boilermakers reside a little bit outside of Indianapolis, with their facilities located in Bloomington and West Lafeyette respectfully. The Indiana Convention Center will serve as a multiple court practice facility and local Mariott properties will house the tournament teams on specified floors.
“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” said NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt. “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”. With selection Sunday still slated to take place on March 14th and the Final Four set to occur on April 3rd and 5th, the NCAA has proved they are willing to do whatever it takes to put on the tournament amid the pandemic. This “whatever it takes” attitude is not the consensus in all college basketball circles, as shown by Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s take on the NCAA season, “I’m not sure who leads college basketball. It’s done by committee. Anything that’s led by committee is not agile in handling a situation”. Coach K followed up by stating, “Basically, it was more a mentality of getting as many games in as possible. I would just like for the safety, the mental and physical health of players and staff to assess where we’re at”. Despite his gripes about the NCAA leadership, it is almost a guarantee we will see Coach K and his Blue Devils in Indiana come March.