It’s official: the entire 2021 March Madness tournament is taking place in Indiana.
The announcement comes after months of talks between the state and NCAA officials.
The news will be a relief to college basketball fans, who went an entire season without a national champion thanks to COVID-19.
Indiana claims 2021 March Madness
The NCAA headquarters are in Indianapolis, so it makes sense that Indy would claim March Madness as its own. After all, in 49 other states, it’s just basketball.
College basketball fans can take a breath now that things are finally set in stone.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said that it took a ton of work to finally get to this point.
“This is a historic moment for NCAA members and the state of Indiana. We have worked tirelessly to reimagine a tournament structure that maintains our unique championship opportunity for college athletes. The reality of today’s announcement was possible thanks to the tremendous leadership of our membership, local authorities and staff.”
The NCAA’s presence in Indianapolis made the city the prime candidate for hosting the entire tournament. Indiana as a whole also has a ton of basketball arenas, which put the state in a unique position to host tournament games.
Which Indiana arenas will host March Madness?
Indianapolis will be the main hub for the entire tournament.
The city will be hosting games at a handful of arenas in the downtown area.
- Bankers Life Fieldhouse
- Lucas Oil Stadium
- Hinkle Fieldhouse
- Indiana Farmers Coliseum
Bankers Life was the natural choice for games, since the arena already houses the Indiana Pacers.
Lucas Oil is the other massive arena in downtown Indy. Since it’s large enough to be the home of the Colts, Lucas Oil will run tournament games on two separate courts in the stadium.
The Indiana Convention Center is the other piece of the downtown Indy puzzle. The building will act as a massive practice facility for all of the tournament’s teams.
Indianapolis might be doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, but part of the tournament will still take place outside of the downtown area.
IU’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and Purdue’s Mackey Arena will have games of their own to host.
Purdue hosting games adds an interesting wrinkle, since the university’s students are not allowed to bet on games in West Lafayette.
Butler students will be in the same spot for games at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
However, that might not end up mattering if fans can’t come to the games. Most students can bet on games as long as they’re not on campus when they take place.
Will 2021 March Madness have fans?
The big question for Hoosiers around the state is whether or not spectators will be allowed.
Since a global pandemic isn’t exactly a yearly occurrence, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for college hoops fans in a state with a well-known love for basketball.
No one knows for sure if the games will allow fans, but it’s likely the outcome that the NCAA wants.
The Colts have had fans at games for months, and the Pacers plan on welcoming fans to Bankers Life starting this month. That provides some optimism for March Madness games.
Hopefully vaccines will be become more widely available over the next few months. That, combined with pro sports in the state already having fans, could help push things in the right direction.
If it’s safe to have fans at March Madness games, that would be a huge boost for the state of Indiana.
The tournament would attract all sorts of visitors and gamblers from other states.
Those out-of-state bettors would help boost Indiana’s sports betting handle, which no longer has the Midwest monopoly that it enjoyed in 2020.
But regardless of whether or not fans can attend the games, 2021’s March Madness tournament will be one to remember. The Hoosier State is in a unique situation for these games that might never come around again.