Indiana to showcase March Madness

Men’s March Madness will be played entirely in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA is giving Indiana an exclusive ticket to showcase March Madness and the basketball-crazed state can’t wait to take center stage this spring.

The NCAA announced Monday that its showcase event — the Division I men’s basketball tournament, all 67 games of it — will be played entirely in or near Indianapolis. The hope is to limit the possibility that the coronavirus pandemic cancels the wildly popular and lucrative tournament for a second consecutive season.

“There are a number of world-class facilities in a close location and that was critical because you have to run a large number of games simultaneously that you can manage and control,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “There were a number of cities that were very interested in hosting this event, but the immediate opportunity to do this in Indianapolis was pretty self-evident for several reasons. For one, we were already going to be there.”

Indy was already scheduled to host the Final Four and it didn’t take long for the city to emerge as the favorite.

The original plan was for the 67 games to be played at 13 sites across the country, starting with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Regional sites were set for Minneapolis, Denver, New York City and Memphis, Tennessee.

Instead, the buzzer beaters and jaw-dropping performances will all take place in a state known perhaps more than any other for its love of basketball.

“I really don’t care if they play the tournament on Saturn or in Indianapolis,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “Hopefully, we’re a part of it and we do our part to get there. And wherever they put it, they put it.”

Logistically, Indy made sense, too.

Dozens of restaurants of hotels are within walking distance of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers and WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Many of those businesses and venues are connected by skywalks that allow players, coaches or fans to stay indoors.

Hinkle Fieldhouse, the historic home of the Butler Bulldogs, and the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, where the IUPUI Jaguars play, are just short drives from the downtown area. Mackey Arena at Purdue and Assembly Hall at Indiana also are about an hour’s drive from downtown.

All of those venues are slated to host games.