March Madness: Indiana Edition

The most popular tournament in the world, March Madness, is making its return to the court after the 2020 tourney was cancelled due to COVID-19. 

This year, the great basketball state of Indiana will host the entire thing. 

The tourney is usually hosted throughout the country and selected sites, and as the tourney goes on, they select a sole stadium to host the elite eight, final four, and championship game. For the 2021 tourney, all games throughout the tourney will be hosted by various stadiums in Indiana. 

 

  • The first four will be held in Mackey Arena, and the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

 

  • Moving onto the first round they will add 4 Indianapolis Stadiums (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Hinkle Fieldhouse) to the two others in use.

 

  • The second round will move everything to Indianapolis in the same four stadiums. 

 

  • The sweet sixteen will take place in Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse.

 

  • Then Lucas Oil Stadium will host the Elite Eight, Final Four, and the Championship game. 

 

These games, however, aren’t coming to Indiana for the first time. Indiana venues have hosted NCAA tournaments a whopping 37 times (estimated 5th most ever). As well as hosting 8 final four rounds, (3rd most ever). After this year's tourney, those numbers will rise drastically. 

Not only will all the games being hosted in Indiana change up the tourney, the seeding this year will as well. In years past, the bracket had been split up into four “regions” so teams didn’t have to travel across the country constantly. With all of the games in one area, there will be no region part of the bracket, therefore making the seeding different than usual. 

This won’t change how teams get into the tourney however, it will still be the post-season conference tourney winners, along with the other 37 teams that will get an invite from the selection committee. These selections will be released on Selection Sunday, March 14th. 

The favorable top seeds include #1 undefeated Gonzaga, #2 Baylor, #3 Illinois, followed by Big Ten partner in #4 Michigan.

Let's take a look at these teams.

Gonzaga has been a feared team for a long time. They’ve appeared in every NCAA tourney since 1999, have been in every AP final poll since 2009, and every weekly poll since the 2016-17 season, the longest current streak. Despite all of their success, they have yet to win a national title. They were runner-up in 2017, making that their best finish to date. Coming in at #1, this could be the season for Gonzaga.

Baylor hasn’t been as consistent as Gonzaga, but they are no team to take lightly. For the first time since 1950, they have claimed the Big 12 conference title, and look to compete for a national championship. This will only be their 9th appearance in the tourney since 2000, and they haven't seen a game past the elite eight since 1950. They look to make a historic run for Baylor, and possibly be the best team in school history.

Illinois has already broken all expectations set for this season. They currently look forward to a #1 seed in the tourney, and possibly a Big Ten tournament title. The Illini however haven’t seen the tournament since 2013, and like Baylor and Gonzaga, haven’t won a national title. Well kinda. They technically have 3 championships, but the NCAA tourney was not a thing back in this time. No matter how you see their past, this is a big year for Illinois.

Rounding off the #1 seeds, is Michigan. The most successful of the four teams as they are the only team with a tournament championship, which dates back to 1989. They have consistently made the tournament since 2009, and have seen the final four twice in the past decade. Despite being nationally ranked lower than Illinois, they boast the Big Ten regular season title (Decided on records against only Big Ten teams.) The Wolverines look to add the Big Ten tournament title, as well as a national title to this year's resume. 

One thing to remember for this year's tourney, to fill out those brackets! Whether it’s just a group of friends, entered online, or just to test your luck, brackets are a fun part of the March Madness experience. Best of luck to those brackets!

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