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NCAA planning bubble for men’s basketball tournament

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FILE – Duke players celebrate after the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game against Wisconsin in Indianapolis, in this Monday, April 6, 2015, file photo. The NCAA announced Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, it plans to hold the entire 2021 men’s college basketball tournament in one geographic location to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 and is in talks with Indianapolis to be the host city (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee is planning substantial COVID-19 modifications to its men’s basketball national tournament. 

In a statement Monday, the NCAA announced that it will hold its 2021 NCAA Tournament in a single geographic area. The association said it is working with officials in Indianapolis, Indiana, to make that possible. Indianapolis is where the NCAA is headquartered and the host city for the 2021 Final Four. 

According to the statement, the NCAA wants to create a “safe and controlled environment” for practice and competition venues during this year’s tournament, which is currently scheduled to begin in mid-March and end with the Final Four April 3-5. A few months ago, the NBA accomplished this by holding the end of its regular season and all of its postseason competition in a bubble in Orlando, Florida. 

“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,” Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball, said in a statement. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”

Last season, the NCAA canceled its national tournament due to COVID-19 concerns. 

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