The NCAA is making a major adjustment to 2021 March Madness in an effort to conduct it as safe as possible amid the ongoing pandemic.
The NCAA announced Monday it will relocate the 2021 men's basketball tournament from the 13 preliminary round sites to a central location, adding they're in talks with the state of Indiana and city of Indianapolis to host the entire 68-team this coming March and April.
Indianapolis was already scheduled to host the men's 2021 Final Four.
“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.
The NCAA planned to host the 2020 tournament without fans due to COVID-19 concerns. However, they canceled it soon after, following the cancelations of the AAC, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC tournaments, among others.
“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.”
The NBA and NHL had success using bubbles for their entire postseason tournaments this past summer, with no players testing positive for the coronavirus. MLB also used bubbles and no players tested positive before Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner during Game 7 of the World Series.
A look at the sites that were scheduled to host games:
First Four: Dayton, Ohio, March 16-17
Round of 64, Round of 32
Boise, Idaho, March 18, 20
Dallas, Texas, March 18, 20
Detroit, Mich., March 18, 20
Providence, R.I., March 18, 20
Lexington, Ky., March 19, 21
Raleigh, N.C., March 19, 21
San Jose, Calif., March 19, 21
Wichita, Kan. March 19, 21
West Regional — Denver, Colo. March 25, 27
Midwest Regional — Minneapolis, Minn. March 25, 27
East Regional — Brooklyn, N.Y., March 26, 28
South Regional — Memphis, Tenn., March 26, 28