Indiana, ‘Mecca of Basketball’, tabbed to host March Madness

College Basketball’s biggest stage comes to Hoosier State

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Jacob T. Lukach

Pictured is the “Gut” Bracket of CHS Sandscript Director, Mr. Lukach. Lukach, a college basketball fanatic, has filled out many more, but this was the first for 2021.

Jacob T. Lukach, Sandscript Director

Just over one year ago, we all sat in classrooms, waiting for our beloved colleges and universities to take the floor for their respective conference tournaments.  Three hundred plus teams were about to begin their shot to earn the automatic bid from their conference to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, more commonly referred to as March Madness.  But just days after the ‘Rudy Gobert Microphone Incident’ and the postponement of the NBA Season, the college basketball, and the NCAA, decided to pull the plug on their biggest moneymaker all year.  That’s right, March Madness, over the course of its three weekends, earns more money in those three weeks than college football makes in all of their bowl games.  THAT’S how popular ‘the Madness’ really is.

     As the year progressed, every other sport out there found a way to reinvent itself and its structure, eventually finding a way to finish their season.  Not college basketball.  Not the March Madness die-hards that lost everything they spend a whole year waiting for after the conclusion of the prior year’s tournament.  College basketball was the only major sport that did not crown a champion last year, making the 2019 winner, the University of Virginia, the reigning champions (and the longest reigning champion ever to boast).  But this season, college basketball has found a way to play over 85% of the originally scheduled games for this season, and yesterday, culminated in the event everyone’s been waiting for since April 2019 (when Virginia cut the nets down): Selection Sunday.

    Of course, with Coronavirus still very much a threat to society, but lessening with distribution of the vaccine, the rules and structure of March Madness has been changed this year.  Because the NBA was so successful using their “bubble” format last summer when they resumed play, the NCAA and its teams will also bubble.  However, seeing that 64 teams, coaching staffs, and managers, not to mention family spectators and other university personnel all need to be bubbled, the NCAA won’t be using a small complex like The World Wide Sports Complex in Orlando like the NBA did.  You see, the NCAA needed to bubble an entire city, with a couple surrounding cities with basketball arenas big enough.  Enter the ‘Mecca of Basketball’, or the state of Indiana, into the fold, and the NCAA had their answer.  

     This year’s entire March Madness tournament will take place in the state of Indiana, culminating with the April 5th Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.  The NCAA will use a few university facilities across the state to hold the first two rounds of the tournament.  Indiana University’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IUPUI’s Coliseum, Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Pacers arena Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Purdue’s Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, will all be used for the tournament, in addition to Lucas Oil Stadium.  Unfortunately for the state, only one of its many NCAA Division 1 basketball teams is playing in this year’s tournament: the Purdue Boilermakers.  The Boilermakers, who also happen to be the 16th youngest team in the entire NCAA, enter the tournament as a number four seed in the “West” region of the tournament, and will play the University of North Texas on Friday night at 6:25pm Central time.  The game will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, and will be shown on TNT.

     Unlike previous seasons, the first and second rounds this year will run from Friday thru Monday of the next week, instead of the traditional Thursday-Sunday slates that are run.  TNT, TBS, CBS, and TruTV will be the broadcasting partners once again for the tournament.  In addition, fans are being allowed back into stadiums now, and Indiana is no exception.  Currently, tickets are available for tournament games at these varying Indiana venues, but with limited admittance, they are on the expensive end for tickets currently.  An additional COVID protocol this year is that tickets are only sold for each individual game, rather than a “block” of games as has been the case in the past.  While this eliminates the opportunity for fans to see teams they are less familiar with, it will also increase the likelihood that the tournament will actually be completed this year, something each and every college basketball fan is dying to see.  

     It’s been a long (nearly) two years since Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers cut down the nets in Minneapolis.  This year, we’ve got our bracket, we can hear the CBS jingle in our heads,  we just need to kick this thing off and enjoy a heck of a lot of great basketball.  Let the Madness begin.