Former IU head coach Kelvin Sampson returning to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall this week

The idea that the entire 2021 NCAA Tournament will be played in the state of Indiana without IU seems more than a little cruel.

But it got worse on Sunday night.

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall is hosting six early round NCAA Tournament games including two first four games and four first round games, and there were a few interesting storylines when the teams playing in Bloomington were announced.

Former IU head coach Kelvin Sampson will be coaching in the building he once called home on Friday night.  Sampson was of course forced to resign in 2008 after committing NCAA recruiting violations.  Now the head coach at Houston, Sampson has led the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row.  Houston, a No. 2 seed, will face No. 15 seed Cleveland State on Friday at 7:15 p.m.  Of course Cleveland State is the program that famously eliminated IU from the 1986 NCAA Tournament as a No. 14 seed.

Interested in attending the game and exchanging pleasantries with Sampson?  Good luck. Indiana will only allow up to 500 fans to attend the games in Bloomington.

Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard will also be in Bloomington this week.  The long time Bob Knight assistant in Lubbock and a hot name in the coaching business brings the Red Raiders to IU as a No. 6 seed.

LSU forward Trendon Watford, brother of former IU star Christian Watford, will also be in the building.  The 6-foot-9 Watford is averaging 16.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.

Finally, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett will bring the No. 4 seed Cavaliers to the IU campus.  Bennett was a serious candidate to replace Sampson at IU, and his sister Kathi was once the women’s head coach at Indiana.

Here is the complete schedule of NCAA Tournament games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall:

First Four — Thursday, March 18

(16) Texas Southern vs. (16) Mount St. Mary’s 5:10 p.m. truTV Assembly Hall
(16) Appalachian State vs. (16) Norfolk State 8:40 p.m. truTV Assembly Hall

First Round — Friday, March 19

(6) Texas Tech vs. (11) Utah State 1:45 p.m. TNT Assembly Hall
(2) Houston vs. (15) Cleveland State 7:15 p.m. truTV Assembly Hall

First Round — Saturday, March 20

(8) LSU vs. (9) St. Bonaventure 1:45 p.m. TNT Assembly Hall
(4) Virginia vs. (13) Ohio 7:15 p.m. truTV Assembly Hall

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