The NCAA has announced a new schedule for its men’s basketball tournament this March, according to SI.com.
The tournament will now be held entirely in the Indianapolis area due to COVID-19 protocols. It will begin on Thursday, March 18, two days later than originally planned. The Final Four will still be on Saturday, April 3, and the national championship game will be played on Monday, April 5.
The major adjustment to the schedule is a slightly delayed start compared to normal years, allowing for additional time following Selection Sunday for teams to arrive in Indianapolis and clear safety measures. The First Four, which in a normal year would be played on the Tuesday and Wednesday following Selection Sunday, will this year be held entirely on Thursday, March 18. Two First Four games will be held at Purdue’s Mackey Arena, while the other two will be played at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Pushing these games back moves the first round of the event to Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20, and the second round to March 21 and 22. Sweet 16 games will be played the following Saturday and Sunday, a two-day delay from the usual Thursday/Friday setup. Those games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse. Elite Eight, Final Four, and national championship games will all be played at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Elite Eight games, which are traditionally held on a weekend, will be contested on Monday, March 29 and Tuesday March 30.
The NCAA previously announced advanced health and safety guidelines, including requiring all players and staff to record seven consecutive negative COVID-19 tests before entering Indianapolis and daily testing once at the event. Teams will also wear contact tracing devices.
ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: CONNOR KMIECIK
PHOTO CREDITS: THE NEW YORK TIMES