The 2021 NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis: scheduling, locations, ticket sales and more

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INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers have a front row seat to March Madness this year.

To limit traveling and COVID-19 exposure, the entire 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is being played in Indiana, with the majority of the 67 games in Indianapolis.

The tournament is expected to generate up to $100 million for Indiana’s lagging economy, including a much needed boost to hotels, restaurants and bars.

With the tournament officially underway, here are all the details you need to know about this huge event. This story will be updated as new information is available.

March Madness 2021 locations

Games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

Ball State University, Butler University, the Horizon League, Indiana University, IUPUI and Purdue University are hosting the tournament, lending staff and facilities for operations.

A practice facility has been set up at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indy.

NCAA Tournament schedule and dates

Here is the complete 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament schedule, including locations and start times:

  • First Four: Thursday, March 18 at 4 p.m. — Mackey Arena and Assembly Hall
  • First Round: Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20 at 12 p.m. — Mackey Arena, Assembly Hall, Bankers Life, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Second Round: Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22 at 12 p.m. — Bankers Life, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Sweet 16: Saturday, March 27 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, March 28 at 1 p.m. — Bankers Life and Hinkle Fieldhouse
  • Elite Eight: Monday, March 29 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, March 30 at 6 p.m. — Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 3 at 5 p.m. — Lucas Oil Stadium
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 5 at 9 p.m. — Lucas Oil Stadium

March Madness tickets: cost and how to get them

As of Friday, March 19, StubHub reports that the average ticket price for the first two rounds of the tournament is $143 — down from previous years, despite limited capacity.

The NCAA is capping fan capacity at 45% with physical distancing required, but each venue made the final call on how many spectators to allow for games.

According to CBS Sports, the average NCAA Tournament ticket price over the last three years is $255. Tickets for the first two rounds, which are always less expensive than later games because the stakes are lower, averaged $189 in 2018 and $161 in 2019.

A sprinkling of official tickets are still available on the NCAA website for earlier rounds, although most are sold out. Third-party sites are selling them, typically well above face value.

The NCAA has not yet released details on the sale of Final Four or championship game tickets. Fans can sign up here to be notified when the NCAA releases more information.

If you’re already seeing Final Four or championship game tickets for sale on third-party websites, those are speculators who anticipate getting tickets but do not have them yet. Purchasing these is a gamble, and consumer experts warn against it.

CBS Sports is also reporting that the majority of ticket buyers — 46 percent — are from Indiana and Illinois this year, meaning fans aren’t traveling like they normally would for NCAA Tournament games.

What COVID-19 precautions are in place?

The 25% capacity decision was made in conjunction with state and local health departments, and it has the support of city officials.

The NCAA’s formalized COVID-19 health and safety protocols for the tournament also include testing, face coverings, physical distancing and contact tracing requirements before teams arrived in Indianapolis and throughout their stay.

Most of the teams are staying in hotel properties adjacent to the convention center, allowing players to get to and from practices via skywalks and within a controlled environment.

Teams are staying on dedicated hotel floors with meeting and dining rooms that allow for physical distancing, and secure transportation is provided to and from game venues.

Can I watch all the games on TV?

If you’re not among the lucky few who get to see a game in person, you can still catch every game on TV. The games will be broadcast across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

Here is the complete TV schedule for the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

  • First Four: truTV, TBS
  • First Round: CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV
  • Second Round: CBS, TBS, TNH, truTV
  • Sweet 16: CBS (afternoon games), TBS (primetime games)
  • Elite Eight: CBS on Monday, TBS on Tuesday
  • Final Four: CBS
  • NCAA championship game: CBS

I heard there are bracketing changes this year. Why?

The NCAA is changing how the bracket of 68 teams is organized, only for the 2021 championship, due to tournament games all being played in Indiana.

In a typical year, bracketing decisions for the preliminary rounds are based heavily on the schools’ geographic proximity to hosting sites. This year, since geography is not a factor, the bracket will be determined in large part by the overall seed list.

For additional details on this change, click here to read the NCAA press release.

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