With the majority of the conference’s teams seemingly destined for the entirely Indiana-based NCAA Tournament, why not just get them there and acclimated a week early?
The NCAA on Tuesday announced the dates for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which will be played almost entirely in Indianapolis from March 18 through April 5.
The announcement comes a few days after multiple reports surfaced indicating that the Big Ten is considering moving its conference tournament from Chicago to Indianapolis. The league tournament is currently scheduled to be played March 10-14.
The reasons for the likely move to Indianapolis are unclear, but no doubt multiple.
Illinois, and specifically the city of Chicago have been under much heavier restrictions than Indiana of late during the pandemic. The city of Chicago has also been very unsafe, with 769 murders in 2020, up more than 50 percent year-over-year, with more than 4,000 total shootings.
Beyond health and safety, Big Ten teams could get a head start on testing requirements needed to play in the NCAA Tournament. Protocols for that event require all Tier 1 personnel (players, coaches and staff) must test negative for COVID-19 for seven straight days before entering the controlled environment in downtown Indianapolis hotels.
If the league tournament is in fact relocated, one result could be a lengthy stay in the Circle City, especially if one or more league teams make a Final Four run. It is conceivable that a team is in Indianapolis for nearly four weeks.
Another possibility is no Big Ten tournament at all. Commissioner Kevin Warren created doubt as to whether there will be a conference tournament this season in a recent interview, and the league has several postponed regular season games that it needs to reschedule.
The 2020 Big Ten Tournament was held in Indianapolis. Only two games were played before the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The tournament is scheduled to be held again in Indianapolis in 2022 and in Chicago in 2023.
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