DIRK: Here we go with the Madness (and I’m not talking about my job search). The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is always entertaining. This year, obviously, things are different because of the pandemic. College basketball’s grand showcase is taking place in an expanded bubble of sorts in the Indianapolis area.
What a great idea to have the tourney in a state where basketball is so beloved. Norman Dale and Jimmy Chitwood would no doubt approve. That’s a Hoosiers reference, my friends.
I had the opportunity to cover a Utah game at Butler a few years back. I arrived early and checked it all out. They have a trophy case filled with props and memorabilia. It’s basketball crazy environment. Besides the Hinkle Fieldhouse, NCAA tourney games are being played at Purdue’s Mackey Arena, Indiana’s Assembly Hall, the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.
Oh, the history.
It’s a fitting environment for the 67 games of the tournament. History is also being made one region (central Indiana) is hosting the whole thing. Although I prefer normalcy and games played in front of enthusiastic fans, this is the next best thing — a safe environment for the teams and a backdrop worthy of such an event. if only the Hickory Huskers were there.
AUSTIN: Playing these games within the Indy Bubble really is making the best out of a bad situation. I agree with you, it is fun to see these games played in these historic venues, and I’m still really jealous that you went to Hinkle Fieldhouse without me. I trust the basket was still 10 feet off the ground and the free throw line was 15 feet away from the rim, right?
Still, it does feel a little less — grand — I guess you could say, than how the Big Dance would feel in a normal year. It is really exciting when the tournament is spread out all throughout the country. It adds to the gigantic magnitude of March Madness, which by the way, is the largest sports event in the world in terms of revenue. But considering we didn’t get to enjoy an NCAA Tournament last year, it’s good to have it back in any capacity. Seems like executing the event in a Bubble is the way to do it for now. It would have been great though to set a real old Indiana high school gym as one of the venues. Or the inside of a barn or something.
I do like your idea. I think, in a pinch, that the Salt Lake Valley/Utah County could be a great place to hold a mini-Bubble. Games could be played at Vivint Arena, the Huntsman Center, the Marriott Center, the Maverick Center and the Dee Events Center. It would be insanely fun to host the best of the best and raise the stakes for the national championship here in the Beehive State.
While we may not have a Hollywood movie to call our own, like Hoosiers, Utah has been home to plenty of great basketball moments. Hopefully they’ll more to come in the future, involving some sort of connection with the NCAA Tournament.