Containing the (March) Madness: College Basketball’s biggest event to be played inside of a bubble this year

Davidson Mens Basketball Team celebrates a win during March Madness

Photo by Creative Commons

Davidson Mens Basketball Team celebrates a win during March Madness

Rohan Miglani, Managing Editor of Sports

Last year, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments (otherwise known as March Madness), two of the most anticipated sporting events of the year, were canceled due to COVID-19. These tournaments account for nearly 70% of College Basketball’s revenue, resulting in a major loss for the NCAA basketball organizations and programs. This revenue comes from the excitement among sports fans who tune into every game, constantly checking the status of their March Madness bracket predictions.

With COVID-19 as prevalent as ever, many feared that the NCAA would be forced to cancel the tournaments yet again this year, due to the constant travel that these tournaments typically call for, along with numerous games in the 2020-21 college basketball season already being postponed or canceled.

To attempt and combat the issues of travel, and to lessen the spread of COVID-19, the NCAA looked to follow many other sports leagues and create a bubble. The NCAA announced that they would play this year’s tournament entirely in the state of Indiana, as their hope is playing in a centralized location will promote safety, and make it easier to manage the tournament. These tournament games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Purdue’s Mackey Arena, the University of Indiana’s Assembly Hall, and in the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

Currently, the NCAA plans on using Marriott properties in Indiana to house players, coaches, and staff, and each team will be separated by floors to promote social distancing. Teams will use practice areas such as the Indiana Convention Center to stay sharp before their games. While the tournament will have a different feel to it, the NCAA hopes that the excitement and drama that takes place every year in this tournament will stay the same.

One of the largest questions surrounding this tournament is whether or not fans will be allowed to attend the venues. Various other sports leagues such as the NFL and UFC have begun to allow fans, with the Kansas City chiefs having 17,000 fans at their stadium for the AFC conference championship and the UFC having 2,000 fans in an indoor venue for their Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier pay-per-view. Currently, the NCAA has stated that family members will be allowed to attend games, however, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has said that they will continue speaking to health officials to determine if broader fan attendance will be allowed.

Many fans of college basketball are just happy that the NCAA tournament is happening allowing them to fill out their brackets and watch the games. The NCAA making steps towards the tournament happening is another step to bringing back the normalcy that was taken from us due to the Covid-19 pandemic