For college basketball fans, the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic was the worst. March Madness, the elimination tournament that highlights the season, was canceled in 2020, less than a month before it was to begin.
However, March Madness is back for 2021. The action begins on March 18, and the event is as big as ever. It brings with it a different look, the renewal of bracket contests, and plenty of betting at online casinos with sportsbooks.
- March Madness begins on March 18, 2021.
- College basketball teams will play at six sites in Indiana.
- COVID-19 safety protocols add a dimension of drama.
March Madness Making a Comeback
March Madness will follow essentially the same format as in previous years; 68 teams, 67 games, multiple TV networks, and a Championship Game scheduled for April 5. However, with the pandemic, the early-round game sites will not be regional as before. This year the teams will play all games at six locations in Indiana, a historical hotbed of college basketball.
The NCAA chose facilities at Butler University, IUPUI, Indiana University, Purdue, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The arenas are all situated within an hour of each other to keep travel to a minimum.
COVID-19 Safety Protocols
There will also be numerous safety protocols, including daily testing of players and team personnel, and controlled-environment hotel accommodations. It will undoubtedly be a challenge for the NCAA, but it is one that organizers had time to plan this year.
Last year, we had to rip March Madness away from all the teams and all the fans at the very last minute. We know it was the right thing to do, but it was a painful thing to do. So we want to deliver this year on the promise of March Madness. They deserve it.
Mark Emmert, NCAA president
Other Special Rules
- If a player tests positive, he goes into isolation and probably is out for the rest of the tournament.
- If a team has multiple positive tests before the tournament, it may be replaced with another team.
- A team that has to shut down during the tournament will forfeit the upcoming game.
- Officials have also limited attendance to the games, following a 25%-capacity rule. For the smaller arenas, that means 500 fans or fewer. But in the vast expanse of Lucas Oil Stadium, as many as 17,000 fans may be there for the title game.
- Everyone will wear masks except the players on the floor.
Online Casinos With Sportsbooks
Online bettors will have a challenge of their own with bracket contests at most online casinos with sportsbooks. Also, many casino sites will be offering all sorts of bonuses, tournaments, and specials to celebrate the return of “The Big Dance.”
Here are some sites we recommend for getting in on the action:
In addition to their regular $1,000 basketball betting bonus, BetOnline has a $100,000 Bracket Madness contest that costs $15 per entry.
The goal of this contest is to shoot for the best bracket for a $15,000 top prize. Even if you make the top 300, you come away with $125 or more.
The casino will have more details up on the site soon enough. Meanwhile, MyBookie is offering future bets on more than 50 contenders.
Get Ready for March Madness
March Madness always brings a lot of drama because every round is a knockout round. The cloud of COVID-19 brings more drama this year by adding another element of survival. One thing is true; fans will be relieved to finally see some action on the court this year and make some bets along the way.