The NCAA announced on Tuesday its dates for the preliminary rounds of the 2021 men's basketball tournament, which will take place entirely in Indianapolis and its surrounding areas.
The tournament will tip off Thursday, March 18, with the First Four games. The first round will follow March 19-20, with the second round March 21-22. Those games will take place at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Assembly Hall in Bloomington, along with Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Sweet 16 will be played March 27-28 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse, with the Elite Eight on March 29-30 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Final Four, as previously indicated, will be played April 3 and 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"The 2021 March Madness schedule is primarily a function of the health and safety protocols for all participants, respecting conference tournaments, balancing time away from campus for college student-athletes, competitive considerations for a national championship and fan engagement during a relatively traditional tournament timetable," said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA's senior vice president of basketball. "We are most appreciative of CBS Sports and Turner Sports for their collaboration and support of the tournament."
There are changes from previous years, as the NCAA tournament's preliminary rounds have typically taken place on back-to-back Thursday-Sunday weekends. But with Selection Sunday on March 14, as well as the teams' need to fly to Indianapolis and go through testing, having the First Four games on the following Tuesday would have been too quick a turnaround.