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March Madness Enters the Bubble

The 2021 Championship will be held in one spot.

Duke v Louisville Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

The NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Committee announced today that the 2021 March Madness Tournament will be played in a bubble-like scenario.

This is of little surprise. The tournament originally was scheduled to take place at 13 different locations before eventually settling for the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The report says that NCAA staff are in talks with the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis about the possibility of bubbling there. Just within Indianapolis, possible game sites include Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, and Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and this does not even include the multitude of possible high school venue sites.

Limiting the travel of each team helps limit the possibility of exposure. Considering the rapid succession of games during March Madness, an outbreak of COVID in one team would have disastrous effects on the rest of the tournament.

What if, for example, the No. 16 seed the Zags play in the first round has a player that tests positive? That team is out of the tournament, but then the Zags have to quarantine and test negative before playing—a bit hard to do when games are 48 hours after each other.

The NBA, MLS, WNBA, and NHL all demonstrated that bubbling up is the best and easiest way to ensure the season goes off without a hitch. College football, MLB, and the NFL are all providing examples proving the opposite.

In an offseason of confusion, this little bit of clarity from the NCAA’s governing body is appreciated.