The NCAA, in its infinite wisdom has decided that, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic crisis, all 67 March Madness games will be played in the state of Indiana. There is probably no other state in the union better equipped to handle March Madness than Indiana.
NCAA Hoops Heads To Hoosierville
No other university has had several movies made about its basketball team. Gene Hackman in “Hoosiers” comes to mind, to name just one. The game of basketball is part of the culture in Indiana like high school football is down in Texas in “Friday Night Lights.”
This year, the Hoosiers are going to get a giant sized portion of hoops, all played live, right there in Indiana. Of course, this is all due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire March Madness NCAA basketball tournament was canceled last year, much to the dismay of ‘hoops’ fans everywhere. The tournament is always one of the stellar events of springtime every year.
Even the governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb, is getting into the act telling reporters, “Indiana was made for this moment.”
However, Dan Gavitt, the senior vice president of basketball for the NCAA said, “This is going to be complicated and difficult, there’s no question about that.” No doubt the tournament is going to be an unprecedented event of intrigue and uncertainty with plenty of drama thrown in just for fun.
COVID-19 Refuses To Give Up
The coronavirus crisis is not getting any better in the US. But the virus is already affecting basketball teams and games here in January. Just last weekend there were 32 games that had to be canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University is still in quarantine after being exposed to the virus. Duke, a perennial favorite at the NCAA tourney, has only played one game in 27 days now. Hardly good for team spirit.
South Carolina is playing its first game in 28 days and poor Villanova has been unseen since before Christmas. San Jose State has taken to playing its home games 700 miles from home at Phoenix due to the COVID-19 virus back in California.
Fewer Teams, But More Excitement
The Ivy League has already dropped out of competition this season leaving the door open for one fortunate at-large team to get into the “Big Dance.” So far, it is looking like there will not be one simple day in this crazy mixed up season. Not even one.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said this week in an interview, “We’re not naïve about how hard this is going to be. The pandemic is still very much alive, and it’s going to be in March, and we all get that.”
Speaking of last year, Emmert continued, “It was an incredibly painful thing to do.” “This year we want to make sure we deliver on the promise of March Madness.”
The Plan Unfolds
At least this year we have a plan, and a vaccine, and some idea of what the finish line looks like. For security and safety reasons, the teams will stay on dedicated hotel floors and take protected skywalks to practices, which will be held in a downtown convention center where the entire tournament can be game-planned within its walls and where the teams can watch film and eat their meals in safe seclusion.
Most of the games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium and at the Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University nearby. Still, it’s certainly better than nothing and basketball fans and sports gamblers will still get a lot of thrills out of the college hoops action.