The NCAA will host the Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament despite the ongoing pandemic
By: Christian DiBuono
The 2021 March Madness tournament will be unlike any sports event that has come before, due to the many COVID-19 precautions surrounding it. The NCAA will be hosting the tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana at six venues including Lucas Oil Stadium with a 25% capacity of fans.
According to the NCAA’s health and safety protocols, players and coaches must have seven consecutive negative tests before the tournament. They will be tested daily once they arrive in Indiana.
Teams that have a high probability of making the tournament are encouraged to stay in the city that hosts their conference championship until selection Sunday on March 14th. All sixty-eight teams that are selected will be settled in one of the hotel properties: Hyatt, JW Marriott, Marriott, and Westin Hotel, that the NCAA bought out.
If a team cannot play due to players and/or coaches getting the coronavirus, any of the four at-large teams that were left out of the tournament will serve as replacements if necessary. With these rules in motion, the NCAA will hope that all teams are going to follow through, with no complications.
According to Vegas Odds, Gonzaga has the best odds to win the tournament at +300 followed by Baylor (+600) and Michigan (+900). Although they all play different styles of basketball, these teams continue to show us why they believe they can be the last team standing.
Gonzaga chasing history.
The number one ranked team, Gonzaga Zags, are among the hottest teams heading into the tournament. Led entirely by Coach Mark Few, along with forward Corey Kispert, forward Drew Timme, and guard Jalen Suggs.
The Zags have become the first team since the 2015 Kentucky Wildcats to go undefeated through the regular season. The Zags were one of the best offensive teams as they’ve become one of three teams in the past sixty years to win twenty-one straight games by double digits.
They also lead the country in field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive rating, and points per game. Despite these accomplishments, Gonzaga will have a lot of pressure going into the tournament as the only undefeated team.
The last team to go undefeated and win the NCAA championship was the 1975-1976 Indiana Hoosiers. Since then, only seven teams including this year’s Zags have finished the regular season undefeated.
All six teams before Gonzaga went on to lose in the tournament.
Mark Few’s teams will most definitely win their conference championship as they are favored at -1000, according to sportsbettingdime.com.
The question until the start of March Madness will be if Gonzaga can write their names into history by going undefeated and winning the national championship.
Scott Drew and Baylor look to make a run in the tournament.
Before their loss to Kansas on February 27th, the Bear had won their first eighteen games. The Bears would beat West Virginia in overtime to win the Big twelve season title, then beat Oklahoma State led by Cade Cunningham, the Number one prospect for the upcoming NBA draft.
Baylor teams under coach Scott Drew are mostly better offensively. This year’s Baylor Bears have excelled on the defensive side of the ball with their “No Middle” style of defense.
The Bears lead the country in three-point percentage while being 2nd in offensive rating, 19th in defensive rating, 7th in steals, and 14th in field goal percentage
Baylor’s best chance of winning their conference championship and making a run to the Final Four and/or the national championship game may rely heavily on if they can continue to dominate the defensive side of the court.
Why Michigan may be an underrated favorite in the tournament.
On Thursday, March 4th, Michigan bounced back from their disappointing loss to Illinois by beating Michigan State in a convincing 69-50 win to win their first Big Ten regular-season championship for the first time in seven years. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson recorded a double-double while his teammate Franz Wagner led the Wolverines in scoring with nineteen points.
Led by coach Juwan Howard, who played at Michigan from 1991-1994, Michigan has been one of the best teams in the nation despite having the 16th stronger schedule in the country. Throughout the season, the Wolverines have played consistent offense and defense as they are led by center Hunter Dickinson and guard Franz Wagner.
Michigan’s next goal is to win their third Big Ten Championship tournament in 5 years. Whether the Wolverines can reach the Final Four and possibly play for the national title, depends on the plays of their two best players.