Ranked No. 15 in A.P preseason poll, the Mountaineer men’s basketball team certainly has high hopes of earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament at season’s end.
Usually getting a bid to the Big Dance means waiting until Selection Sunday before knowing the where, when and who.
The “where” piece of the puzzle might be finalized soon, though as the NCAA is in preliminary talks with the State of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis to potentially host the 68-team tournament in and around the metropolitan area during the coordinated dates in March and April.
The tournament will continue to have a 68-team field, but instead of spreading those games to many locations across the country, as has been the norm, the NCAA will attempt to format somewhat of a bubble by keeping all the games in one geographic location in order to provide safeguards in these COVID-19 times.
“In recent weeks, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has engaged in a contingency planning process to determine the most effective way to conduct a safe and healthy March Madness for all participants for the 2021 championship,” the organization said in a release on Monday. “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 committee has decided the championship should be held in a single geographic area to enhance the safety and well being of the event.”
Indianapolis was already slated to host the Men’s Final Four from April 3-5, 2021.
“My committee colleagues and I did not come lightly to the difficult decision to relocate the preliminary rounds of the 2021 tournament, as we understand the disappointment 13 communities will feel to miss out on being part of March Madness next year,” said Mitch Barnhart, chair of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and University of Kentucky athletics director. “With the University of Kentucky slated to host first- and second-round games in March, this is something that directly impacts our school and community, so we certainly share in their regret. The committee and staff deeply appreciate the efforts of all the host institutions and conferences, and we look forward to bringing the tournament back to the impacted sites in future years.”
“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.”
“The committee and staff have thoughtfully monitored the pandemic to develop potential contingency plans,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA President. “The Board of Governors and my top priorities are to protect the health and well-being of college athletes while also maintaining their opportunity to compete at the highest level. These principles have guided the decision-making process as we continue to assess how to have a fair and safe championship experience.”
CBS Sports and Turner Sports will continue to distribute all 67 games of the tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV and their digital platforms.
FORMER 2021 PREDETERMINED SITES (NEXT SCHEDULED YEAR TO HOST AN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND)
First Four — Dayton, OH, March 16-17 (2022-2026 First Four)
Boise, ID, March 18/20 (None Scheduled)
Dallas, TX, March 18/20 (2024 South Regional)
Detroit, MI, March 18/20 (2024 Midwest Regional)
Providence, RI, March 18/20 (2025 1st/2nd Rounds)
Lexington, KY, March 19/21 (2025 1st/2nd Rounds)
Raleigh, NC, March 19/21 (2025 1st/2nd Rounds)
San Jose, CA, March 19/21 (2026 West Regional)
Wichita, KS, March 19/21 (2025 1st/2nd Rounds)
West Regional — Denver, CO, March 25/27 (2023, 2025 1st/2nd Rounds)
Midwest Regional — Minneapolis, MN, March 25/27 (None Scheduled)
East Regional — Brooklyn, NY, March 26/28 (2024 1st/2nd Rounds)
South Regional — Memphis, TN, March 26/28 (2024 1st/2nd Rounds)