March Madness plan released by NCAA, and the schedule looks different

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FILE – In this March 18, 2015, file photo, the NCAA logo is displayed at center court as work continues at The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, for the NCAA college basketball tournament. The NCAA took a significant step toward allowing all Division I athletes to transfer one time without sitting out a season of competition. A plan to change the waiver process is expected to be presented to the Division I Council in April, 2020. If adopted, new criteria would go into effect for the 2020-21 academic year and be a boon for athletes in high-profile sports such as football and men’s and women’s basketball. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Not only will the NCAA men’s basketball tournament be played completely in Indiana, but it will also have a new scheduling format, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

“March Madness” during the COVID-19 pandemic will not follow its normal schedule until Final Four weekend.

The First Four games, which are typically played on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the full tournament tips off, will instead be played on Thursday, March 18.

Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington will each host two First Four games and will join Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium as hosts of first-round games Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20, according to the NCAA.

The four venues in Indianapolis will serve as sites for the remainder of the championship, including second-round games Sunday and Monday, March 21 and 22.

The NCAA plans to play the Sweet 16 games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28. All Sweet 16 games will be played at separate times.

The Elite Eight games will be in prime time Monday and Tuesday, March 29 and 30, and the Final Four is scheduled for Saturday and Monday, April 3 and 5. All those games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium, according to the NCAA.

The Texas Longhorns figure to reach the 2021 NCAA Tournament for the third time under head coach Shaka Smart. This week, Texas is ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, but are not playing a game this week after COVID-19 issues at Iowa State and TCU forced postponements.

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