800 basketball players completed 67 games in 19 days: March Madness is a puzzle of gems

800 basketball players completed 67 games in 19 days: March Madness is a puzzle of gems

Instead of enthusiastic fans, the stadium is filled with cardboard figures.Build Getty Images

With the sudden cancellation of March Madness, the popular student-athlete basketball tournament, America became aware of the severity of the coronavirus a year ago, on the cusp of an epidemic. Another attempt will take place this week in Indianapolis, where more than 800 players from 68 teams gather in a “controlled environment.”

Starting Thursday, the country’s top college teams will be competing against each other in The Big Dance, as the tournament is also called. In the American Spring, the knockout competition occupies an important place in the American sports calendar.

The field of participants was scheduled live on TV last weekend, after which many will arrive eagerly to get a pen. Fill ArchAnd predicting the winners, a national pastime that presidents have participated in in the past. (Barack Obama has explained his choices annually on ESPN Sports, and his successor, Donald Trump, has broken with tradition. It is not yet known if Joe Biden will participate.)

As far as we know, no one has been able to correctly fill out the form. Unpredictability is instantly the magic of tournament, as a little thumbs up regularly manages to beat the biggest giants. The challenge is greater than ever this year: In Indianapolis and the surrounding area, the coronavirus will make accurate predictions nearly impossible.

The lead up to March Madness was very chaotic. Dozens of regular season games have been canceled due to injuries, and rankings have been disrupted across the country. But The Big Dance had to come and it would come. 68 teams, over 800 players, a handful of staff per team, 67 games in 19 days. They are components of the high-risk project in Basketball City Indianapolis.

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For the first time in the tournament’s history, the NCAA, the powerful body that oversees college sports competitions, has chosen one host city, with previous rounds usually spread across the country. Women will begin March Madness next weekend in three different host cities in Texas, the state that recently ended mask requirements.

The NCAA doesn’t want to talk about a bubble. In the “Controlled Environment” of Indianapolis, each hotel team is assigned a private floor. Players must be tested negative seven times upon arrival and tested once in Indianapolis per day. As long as teams are able to get five decent basketball players (and therefore no reserve) on their feet, the games will continue, as determined by the NCAA, which had a stock exchange building in downtown Indianapolis converted into a training complex with the help of an architectural firm.

In the building, which has an area of ​​u200bu200bten football fields, all teams have their own changing room, and several training grounds have been set up. A type of watchtower, similar to a watchtower, that keeps teams with tech aids away from each other.

If coaches want to train at the same time, patience is required. “We will have to play nice with each other in this sandbox,” said the head of the architectural firm.

Six stadiums in and near Indianapolis are used for matches. A maximum of 25 percent of the seats will be filled. Turner Sports and CBS will pay $850 million (more than €711 million) this year for the rights to the tournament, which drew an average of more than ten million viewers per game in the last edition in 2019. No, for the NCAA, it wasn’t Cancel the last option.

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Due to the absence of March Madness, the organization’s turnover fell by $600 million in the last calendar year. The NCAA could whistle the 827 million that the TV channels would pay, and had to make do with the 270 million paid by the insurance companies. The member universities received only a fraction of the money that would normally be owed to them.

For students who have been awarded a scholarship for their basketball skills, participating in March Madness is the ultimate dream. Some only get one chance. The best players leave the NBA professional league after a year in college, while less talent may, with a bit of luck, qualify for once in their lives. “As a kid, I had an obsession with March Madness, it was my favorite time of the year,” Eric Monroe, a fourth grader at Yale University, told me a year ago. USA Today. “I was so close…”

one bright moment, is the title of the song written specifically for March Madness. This is when the players of the winning team traditionally cut the net from the basket. If all goes according to plan in Indianapolis, it will be heard back in exactly three weeks after a year-long hiatus.

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