March Madness 2021 will have fans after all, the NCAA announced last week.
The Men’s March Madness, which will all be played in Indiana this year, will have a limited number of fans in attendance in every round. Up to 25 percent capacity will be allowed, with physical distancing and face coverings mandatory, as well as “thorough cleaning, disinfecting and safety measures” at all venues.
The NCAA said it will also allow fans at the women’s tournament, which will all be held in the San Antonio region, though with different parameters: only up to 17 percent capacity will be permitted at each venue, and only from the Sweet 16 to the Final Four. Contests in the first two rounds will only have team guests in the stands. Face coverings, physical distancing and other safety protocols are the same.
“This is a good but bold move by the NCAA,” Daniel McQuiston, a Butler professor of marketing who specializes in sports, told Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star. “The men’s basketball tournament is one of, if not the biggest sporting events for the NCAA.
“With the number of cases down and the vaccines starting to have an impact, the NCAA appears to feel that this is the right time to aloow more fans in. It’s a move that will create a psychological boost for all sports fans everywhere that says, ‘We’re going to do our best to get back to normal.'”
NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement on the decision to allow fans at March Madness.
“We continue to use the knowledge we have gained over the season on how to conduct games in a safe environment,” he said. “I want to thank our host universities and conferences, the Indiana State Health Department, and the leaders in the Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe county health departments as they help make that possible.”
Now for some other news from across the sport this week:
Nothing But News: Feb. 16-22, 2021
Ayo Dosunmu continued his incredible season, putting together the fourth triple-double in Illinois men’s basketball history, his second in four games, over the weekend in a 94-63 thumping of Minnesota. He had 19 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds on the day.
Duke men’s basketball freshman Jalen Johnson left the team and will skip the remainder of the season.
No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State men’s basketball played in one of the best games of the season Sunday, both proving they deserve to be considered two of the best teams in the country as the Wolverines came out on top, 92-87, in Columbus.
The Los Angeles Sparks re-signed Seimone Augustus, continuing her time with the franchise after she joined it from free agency in 2020.
Mechelle Voepel released her updated WNBA mock draft after the trades and signings the league has seen lately. The No. 1 pick hasn’t changed, though.
Nick Kelly of the Star Tribune reported on what the pandemic has taught Minnesota youth basketball tournaments, a look at how COVID-19 has impacted the lowest levels of the sport.
Get Caught Up on NBN Content!
Here’s a recap of some of our content from the last week:
Braxton Jones Owns His Destiny as His Family Commits to College Dream
In October, Class of 2022 point guard Braxton Jones explained his gratitude for the sacrifices his parents have made for him to pursue his dream of college basketball. This is the story of how the Jones family is collectively working to make it happen.
Bracketology 2021: Predicting the NCAA Tournament (Feb. 19, 2021)
There were two bracket updates this week, with the latest one coming Friday. Who’s in, who’s out, and where it everyone seeded? We have the answers.
Bubble Watch 2021: Locks, Should Be, Over, On & Bursting (Feb. 19, 2021)
Our Bubble Watch series kicked off, explaining in detail where every team in remote tournament contention stands relative to the cutline and why. If you’re someone who pays attention to bracketology but doesn’t really get how it works, this is for you.
WNBA Free Agency Tracker 2021
Stay up to date on who is going where with our regularly updated WNBA free agency tracker.