INDIANAPOLIS — 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 one at a time on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. They will also be held at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena at Purdue and Assembly Hall in Bloomington. .
Championship weekend is still scheduled for April 3 and April 5 but preliminary round dates have not yet been determined.
“Last year, we had to rip March Madness away from all the teams and all the fans at the very last minute,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said during a video call. “We know it was the right thing to do, but it was a painful thing to do. So we want to deliver this year on the promise of March Madness. They deserve it.”
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 pandemic has already canceled scores of college basketball games this season, with postponements and COVID-19 issues nearly a daily occurance.
“This is going to be complicated and difficult; there’s no question about that,” NCAA vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said.
Ball State, Butler, Indiana, IUPUI and Purdue will serve as host schools and the Horizon League will host games played at Lucas Oil Stadium, just a short distance away from NCAA headquarters. The NCAA also plans to hold its Division II and Division III tournaments in Indiana.
Gavitt said most of the Division I games will be played in the Indianapolis area, though some first-round games will be played at Indiana and Purdue. Both Big Ten schools are approximately an hour’s drive from Indianapolis.
The NCAA said it intends to partner with a local health provider to administer COVID-19 testing for players, coaches, school administrators and officials and will continue to work with public health officials to maintain a safe and healthy environment around the tournament
CBS Sports and Turner Sports will continue to televise all of the games on the TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV networks and their digital platforms.