The NCAA has created a contingency plan in case teams drop out of the March Madness tournaments due to Covid-19.
What Happens If a Team is Unable to Compete in March Madness?
The NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committees have released a contingency plan related to the withdrawal of participants due to Covid-19. The scheme determines the course of action in case a team is unable to participate in the 2021 Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships due to issues caused by the disease.
If a team can’t complete after March 16, its opponent will progress to the next round and the team drops out of the championship.
Those four at-large teams that don’t make the original field in the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments will serve as the replacement teams if any conference with multiple bids has a school that is unable to participate due to Covid-19 issues.
The men’s and women’s basketball brackets will be announced at 6 p.m. on March 14 and 7 p.m. on March 15 respectively. Under the plan, after the release of the bracket teams will not be reseeded, nor will the bracket change.
The NCAA will also make efforts to ensure a full field is in place before the start of the championship. However, no replacement teams will be introduced after the championship begins.
In addition, every participating conference should be granted the opportunity for a minimum of one team in the championship field. The plan also says that replacement teams must be among the best teams being considered for an at-large bid.
Since all four replacement teams would have been seeded as a First Four team, their first-round opponent will not be at a competitive disadvantage as the replacement team would be either a comparable or lower-seeded team.
When Does the Tournament Begin?
March Madness is set to begin with Selection Sunday on March 14, the NCAA announced last month. The Final Four and the NCAA championship game are scheduled for April 3 and 5 respectively. The First Four will start on March 18, followed by the First round on March 19 and March 20.
Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
There will be a slight change in the NCAA bracket. Teams will be placed in the bracket considering rankings without the usual geographic criteria. This is called using the “S-curve” to fill the bracket. There will be 37 at-large selections (one more than usual) and 31 automatic qualifiers (one less than usual).