Everyone will come to my city, even if they never leave theirs, even if only through a cable, satellite dish or Internet connection.
Due to the pandemic that destroyed its predecessor, the 2021 NCAA Tournament will be played almost entirely within the Indianapolis city limits. Okay, technically I don’t live within the city limits, but still. This has been my home for almost seven years and it is a lovely place full of people who mostly agree on two things:
St. Elmo’s makes a good steak.
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Basketball is a godsend and is, as Shooter at Hoosiers puts it, “the best game ever invented.”
Even if you are lucky enough to make the trip, your experience will not be the same as it could have been when the first rounds were here in 2017, when the Midwest Region was here in 2013, or when the Final Four visited in 2015. The Las The stands will not be crowded with fans at all venues. Indoor face covers are required.
However, there will be a tournament. There were so many who doubted that the college basketball season could get to this point. There were some who argued that it shouldn’t bother. The images of joy and anguish we saw during conference tournaments: Connecticut players celebrating the 3-pointer for Andrew Hurley, son of coach Dan Hurley, or the tears of Florida State players who lost their second chance at a championship in eight days – showed why it was worth trying.
Because there will be a tournament, we will have a champion and groups of groups to predict who that team might be. This is where I see it going. There are no guarantees. But wait for us to get there.
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March Madness parenthesis predictions
Gonzaga. The Zags have been the best team in the country since the season began. And while their dominance of the West Coast Conference has been even more apparent than usual because they weren’t forced to tackle all those crazed crowds in band gyms, the WCC vs. BYU final proved they could hold out. The double-digit halftime deficit presented freshman Jalen Suggs with the opportunity to become THAT GUY, and he seized it. The Zags will make it to the Final Four.
Alabama. The strange thing about Crimson Tide is not that they are also good at basketball, it is that they are known for their 3-point shots when their best quality is the way they defend. Alabama has the second best D. in the nation. The Tide will steal the ball from you. If you keep it, they will block your shots. They will prevent you from getting the attempts you want and from making the ones you take. And if they bomb in 20 or more than three, they are almost impossible to beat.
Illinois. Coach Brad Underwood, who worked at Oklahoma State before accepting the job at Illinois, cannot be satisfied with the prospect of seeing the Cowboys at Sweet 16. You know who has reason to be even less pleased? OK State coach Mike Boynton. While Underwood has to deal with a dangerous team just to make it to the Elite Eight, Boynton has to deal with one of the top three teams in the nation. His Cowboys deserved better treatment. The Illini won’t have it easy, but they will send OK State home at least a round earlier than it should have been.
Purdue. The last time we had a tournament, the Boilermakers were just one free throw away from their first Final Four appearance since 1980. That free throw didn’t convert and they’re still waiting. Maybe not for much longer. This is a young and developing team, but it seems to have landed on a support that can be conquered. The key will be whether young Jaden Ivey can continue his recent rise to stardom.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.