INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA announced Thursday what will happen if a team needs to withdraw from March Madness play due to COVID-19 when the tournament begins next month in Indianapolis.
The first four teams left off the NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket will have the option to be included as replacements if a team is unable to play.
The bracket will not be reseeded after it is released March 14, and replacement teams will take the place of those that withdrew until a March 16 deadline, two days before the tournament begins.
After that date, if a team has to drop out of the tournament, its opponent will advance to the next round via a no-contest rule.
An NCAA spokesperson said the governing body has not determined what will happen if a team in the Final Four or National Championship Game cannot play due to positive COVID-19 tests.
The NCAA will try to ensure each conference has at least once team in the 68-team tournament. Replacement teams will be among the best teams considered for an at-large bid.
A single-bid conference will be allowed to replace its automatic qualifier with a preapproved replacement team if its champion is unable to play.
In a situation where a team from a multi-bid conference withdraws, the first team not selected as an at-large team will replace it on the bracket. The four replacement teams will remain on their campuses and continue testing for COVID-19 in case they need to travel to Indianapolis.
The tournament will begin March 18 with First Four games played Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall in Bloomington and Mackey Arena in Lafayette. In early January, the NCAA announced the entire tournament would be played in Central Indiana with the majority of games scheduled at venues in Indianapolis.
Games played in Indianapolis will take place on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The NCAA said only one game at a time will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.
According to the NCAA, arenas will be limited to a maximum 25% capacity. Indiana University announced games at Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall will be played with up to 500 fans in attendance with a limited number of seats reserved for vaccinated medical personnel and first responders from Monroe County.
2021 NCAA tournament schedule
- March 18: First Four (Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall and Mackey Arena)
- March 19-20: First Round (Games at all six venues)
- March 21-22: Second Round (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum)
- March 27-28: Sweet 16 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse)
- March 29-30: Elite 8 (Lucas Oil Stadium)
- April 3: Final Four (Lucas Oil Stadium)
- April 5: National Championship (Lucas Oil Stadium)