March Madness is heading for a bubble.
The NCAA announced Monday that it is in “preliminary talks with the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis” to hold the entire 68-team 2021 NCAA men’s tournament in and around Indianapolis, which already is the planned site of the 2021 Final Four.
The timetable remains the same, with plans to hold the tournament at the same time in March, finishing up with a Final Four on April 3-5.
“Through these discussions, it became apparent to the committee that conducting the championship at 13 preliminary round sites spread throughout the country would be very difficult to execute in the current pandemic environment,” the NCAA said in a statement. “The committee has decided the championship should be held in a single geographic area to enhance the safety and well-being of the event.”
The committee said in the statement that this move “emphasized the importance of conducting the championship in a manageable geographic area that limits travel and provides a safe and controlled environment with competition and practice venues, medical resources and lodging for teams and officials all within proximity of one another.”
“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,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”