Having some March Madness withdrawals? No one would blame you since COVID-19 canceled the 2020 tournament.
With no national championship this year, there will be plenty of pent-up excitement for the end of 2021’s college basketball season.
Hoosiers might have a unique situation at their fingertips for college basketball’s postseason next year.
The NCAA is currently in talks to play the entire March Madness tournament in Indianapolis.
March Madness in Indianapolis
NCAA headquarters are in Indianapolis, so the organization’s talks with the city are moving quickly.
According to Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball, he’s learned a lot from watching other sports leagues handle the COVID-19 situation.
“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. However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”
Indy was already going to host the Final Four in April. This would obviously be shaking up that original plan, but Hoosiers would love to have more basketball in town.
Indianapolis is in a unique spot when it comes to being able to host all 67 tournament games.
Gavitt stated that the NCAA hopes to confirm Indianapolis as the host city by Jan. 1.
Which Indianapolis arenas could host March Madness?
Indy has a ton of options when it comes to hosting March Madness games.
To start, there’s Lucas Oil Stadium. The home of the Colts is where the city has hosted NCAA games in the past, and it’s where the Final Four was already scheduled to take place.
Then there’s the soon-to-be-renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers play all of their home games at the Fieldhouse. Although the arena’s capacity is smaller than Lucas Oil, it’s still certainly capable of hosting some extra basketball games.
Next up is the Indiana Convention Center.
It’s one of the biggest buildings of its kind in the US. The convention center is big enough to host dozens of games on its own if that’s a route the NCAA wants to take.
The Indiana Sports Corp. already had a plan in place for teams and conferences to play inside a bubble at the convention center. It could still be an option for the tournament if it ends up that no fans are allowed.
That doesn’t even cover all of the Indianapolis options.
Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, University of Indianapolis or Marian University could also be on the table as possible sites.
Should things spill out of the capital, there’s even more to choose from.
When does college basketball start?
Originally, the 2020-2021 college basketball season was going to start on Nov. 10.
The pandemic may have pushed things back, but basketball fans won’t have to wait long to see their favorite teams in action.
IU Basketball will start its season on Nov. 30 at the Maui Invitational. Purdue’s first action will be on Nov. 25 at the Space Coast Challenge.
Butler will get things underway on Nov. 25 against Western Michigan, with Notre Dame following up with its Nov. 28 opener against Michigan State.
The question is, will fans be allowed inside of arenas this season?
Hosting all of these March Madness games is great for Indianapolis as a city, but it doesn’t do much good for fans if the tournament has its doors closed to the public.
It’s impossible to know what the COVID-19 situation will look like come March.
Even if there are no spectators during the regular season, that might change come tournament time.
It is a situation worth keeping an eye on as the months progress and the season gets underway.
Indiana’s well documented love affair with basketball could make this a special year for the state if it indeed plays host to the tournament.
We won’t know more until the NCAA and the city come to some sort of agreement, but for now, a March Madness bubble will be a fun thought for Hoosiers everywhere.