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NCAA To Play All 67 March Madness Games In Indiana

basketball on court

(Pixabay)

The NCAA announced Monday that all 67 men's basketball tournament games including the Final Four will be played entirely in Indiana in a bid to keep the marquee event from being called off for a second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium as well as at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena at Purdue and Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In a statement sent via email, IU Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Dolson said, “We are honored to team with our friends at the NCAA in Indianapolis for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this spring and host games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

"March Madness is the highlight event for all college basketball student-athletes and fans, and we are excited to welcome the tournament back to Bloomington for the first time since 1981. We are also appreciative of the extraordinary lengths that the NCAA is going to in an effort to protect the health and safety of students, coaches, fans and communities by bringing the event to one central location in Indianapolis. Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved in Indianapolis for coming together to find a way to ensure that this cherished college sporting event can happen safely this spring.”

Championship weekend is still scheduled for April 3 and April 5 but preliminary round dates have not yet been determined.

Ball State, Butler, Indiana, IUPUI, Purdue and the Horizon League will co-host the tournament and NCAA officials say most games will be played in Indianapolis. The NCAA also will partner with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing for players, coaches, school administrators and officials.

CBS Sports and Turner Sports will continue to distribute all 67 games of the tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV and their digital platforms.

Indiana Sports Corporation President Ryan Vaughn said it’s going to take the whole city of Indianapolis to make everyone feel safe and welcome.

“Indy quite literally was made for this moment,” said Vaughn. “So now let’s all go out there and be the best partners we can be for the NCAA; let’s wear our mask, wear it today so they can play. Let’s help all these student athletes with this incredible experience.”

The NCAA had said it intended to play the entire tourney in one locale and that Indianapolis, where the governing body is headquartered, would be the likely place. The Final Four had already been scheduled to take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in April.

Plus, there are dozens of hotels and restaurants within walking distance of multiple basketball venues with additional practice facilities and courts just a short drive away from downtown Indianapolis.

What's still to be determined is how many fans will be allowed inside the venues. NCAA officials said a limited number of family members of players and coaches could attend games but decisions about expanding attendance or conducting fan events will be announced later.

“The 2021 version of March Madness will be one to remember, if for no other reason than the uniqueness of the event,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “We are making the most of the circumstances the (COVID-19) global pandemic has presented. ... This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that."

Samantha Horton contributed to this story.

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