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March Madness, Masked Edition: Previewing This Year’s NCAA Tournament, And How It Will Look Different Amid The Pandemic




Evan Mobley #4 of the USC Trojans dunks the ball while playing the Oregon Ducks in the second half at Galen Center on February 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Evan Mobley #4 of the USC Trojans dunks the ball while playing the Oregon Ducks in the second half at Galen Center on February 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
John McCoy/Getty Images

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Of the many sporting and other events that have fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic since it began in earnest about a year ago, one of the first was the beloved NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Office bracket pools were left high and dry, Vegas missed out on one of its most lucrative weekends of the year and sports fans were robbed of the opportunity to watch Cinderella teams from mid-major conferences go dancing in March against some of the top talent in college basketball.

This year, the Madness has returned, albeit with some additional safety protocols in place. Most notably, the entire tournament will take place in Indianapolis this year as opposed to holding games for each round in various cities across the country. The field of 68 was chosen on Sunday and Gonzaga University enters the tournament as the top overall seed at 26-0, looking to become the first team since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers in 1976 to win the tournament and finish the season with a perfect record. But nothing is certain when it comes to March Madness, and there are plenty of other juggernauts like Michigan, Illinois, Baylor, Iowa and Ohio State who are also in the mix. And that’s to say nothing of dark horses like Winthrop, Liberty and Colgate, all of whom are being talked about as potential upset contenders. Southern California has four teams represented -- 6-seed USC, 11-seed UCLA, who must win their play-in game with Michigan State to earn a first round matchup with BYU, 12-seed UCSB, who are a sleeper favorite to win their first round matchup against 5-seed Creighton, and 6-seed San Diego State.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll hear about how the city of Indianapolis is preparing to host the entire tournament, what the city and NCAA are doing to ensure player and fan safety, and of course we’ll take a look at the teams in the tournament and share some tips on how to make your bracket a winner this year.

 

Guests:

Shari Rudavsky, health and medicine reporter for The Indianapolis Star following the city’s preparations for the 2021 NCAA Tournament; she tweets @srudavsky

Myron Medcalf, national college basketball reporter for ESPN; he tweets @MedcalfByESPN