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A general view of the the tip-off between the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles and the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be all in one place next March, the NCAA announced Monday. All games scheduled for the 13 other preliminary round locations will likely be moved to Indianapolis.

For North Carolinians, that means the first and second round games scheduled for March 19 and 21, 2021 in Raleigh, will be moved.

“In recent weeks, the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee has engaged in a thorough contingency planning process to determine the most effective way to conduct a safe and healthy March Madness for all participants for the 2021 championship,” the NCAA release said. “Through these discussions, it became apparent to the committee that conducting the championship at 13 preliminary round sites spread throughout the country would be very difficult to execute in the current pandemic environment. The committee has decided the championship should be held in a single geographic area to enhance the safety and well-being of the event.”

Specifics have not been announced yet, but the NCAA said it will be working with the state of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis on staging the tournament entirely there. The Final Four was already scheduled for April 3-5, 2021 in Indianapolis.

“We have learned so much from monitoring other successful sporting events in the last several months, and it became clear it’s not feasible to manage this complex championship in so many different states with the challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball. “However, we are developing a solid plan to present a safe, responsible and fantastic March Madness tournament unlike any other we’ve experienced.”

NCAA officials are hoping to avoid the awkwardness that came with many of the conference championship tournaments in 2020. The pandemic started growing rapidly as those tournaments were being held, and many of them were stopped literally mid-game once people realized the seriousness of the situation.

 

Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.