March Madness 2021

March Madness is usually one of the most exciting times of the year for sports enthusiasts. The annual tournament brings sixty-eight of the best division one basketball teams in the nation, divided into four different regions and ranked from one to sixteen. Every March, college basketball fans across the country are eager to experience the great entertainment which this event brings. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the tournament didn’t happen last year, but this year it has been confirmed that we will get March Madness. However, the 2021 tournament will look quite different. The tournament will be held in Indianapolis, instead of scattered games across different cities and regions. In a typical year, the tournament is played all over America, the bracket is split into four regions and they play their first two rounds of games in the assigned regions. Out of an abundance of caution, the NCAA decided that it was best for the tournament to be played in one location, similar to what the NBA did with their playoff “bubble.” Some of he venues for the tournament include Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts), Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. Collegiate hosts include Ball State University, Butler University, the Horizon League, Indiana University of Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Purdue University. These schools have offered their facilities, staff members and hospitality in order to make March Madness 2021 a success. As for the actual games, this season has brought some NCAA teams into the limelight. It has not been a typical season and the rankings prove this. College basketball analyst Andy Katz produces his “Power 36” list of the best 36 current teams in division one college basketball. Katz describes how the 2020 season has seen the fall of the many notoriously great programs and the rise of new and young programs looking to take over the game and dominate. A popular story has been the fall of the “blueblood” (Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Indiana and UNC) programs. The “bluebloods” are schools that are historically great and always seem to make a run in the tourney. The University of Kansas is the highest ranked blueblood according to Andy Katz most recent rankings. Kansas sits comfortably at eight, UCLA trails not far behind at fifteen, Kentucky sits at twenty-nine, Duke follows at thirty-three, but perhaps the biggest story is that UNC and Indiana are nowhere to be found in the power thirty-six. This not only changes what the brackets look like but it could also entail a change of power in college basketball. Not only will the location and format look different this year, but so will the teams that make it to the tournament. As for local teams, Providence College looks solid this year and will most likely receive an at-large bid. Bryant University in Smithfield is dominating their conference, the NEC, and will earn themselves a trip to the “Big Dance” if they win their conference. As for URI and Brown University, URI is in sixth place in the Atlantic-10 conference and unless they pick it up soon, they may miss the tournament. Unfortunately for Brown, the Ivy league is not playing any games this season. March Madness is going to look different this year for sure, and the layout will be something we have never seen before, but the NCAA is taking all and every precaution to make sure that March Madness 2021 will be a hit.