NCAA sets arena limits for March Madness at 22% capacity

NCAA Basketball

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)The NCAA released capacity figures for the six March Madness venues Thursday. Because of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no arena will hold more than 22% of its capacity.

Lucas Oil Stadium, which will host the Final Four along with games over the first and second weeks, will hold 6,900 fans on one court and 8,500 on the other. That’s 22% of capacity, which is the largest capacity of any of the six arenas.

Games at Indiana University will be limited to 500 attendees, or 3% of capacity. Games at Purdue will be limited to 1,350 fans (9%). Farmers Coliseum will hold 1,200 fans (18%), Hinkle Fieldhouse will hold 1,250 (14%) and Bankers Life Fieldhouse will hold between 2,500 and 3,800 (13-19%) depending on the time of the games and postgame cleanup.

The NCAA had earlier said no arena would hold more than 25% of capacity.

Fans will sit in pods of two, four or six, depending on their living situation. Family members will be barred from walking down to the court to talk to players.

COVID-19 TESTING

NCAA vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said there have been eight positive COVID-19 tests among the more than 9,100 performed since teams started arriving in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Those include tests performed on all individuals affiliated with the schools – not just players, coaches and staff who are part of the schools’ Tier 1 group and get tested daily.

Gavitt said any player who tests positive must isolate for 10 days. They have the choice to stay in the NCAA’s ”controlled environment” or be transported back to campus.

”If they decide to stay, they will be isolated in their hotel room. Not moved,” Gavitt said.

The NCAA has taken over four hotels being used to house 68 teams and their up-to-34-person Tier 1 travel parties. Each person gets their own hotel room.

”They unfortunately will not be able to leave the hotel room, for obvious reasons. For their safety and health as well as others around them,” Gavitt said. ”But they certainly will be cared for by their institution and their COVID health officer, team physician. And the NCAA will provide support and monitor them to make sure that they are cared for their entire stay.”

If their team is still participating in the tournament when their isolation period ends, they can rejoin the team if they are cleared by team doctors.

LONG ROAD

No team in the country endured what Florida did this season. The seventh-seeded Gators watched their best player collapse on the court during a game in mid-December and then spent days wondering whether Keyontae Johnson would survive, let alone return to the floor.

Johnson slowly began his recovery – the team has not detailed the reasons for his collapse – and eventually rejoined his teammates as an assistant coach. His basketball future remains in question as the Gators begin play in the tournament’s South Region against 10th-seeded Virginia Tech at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday.

”Coach Key” will be there on the bench, cheering, supporting and sometimes even telling the Gators what to do and where to be on the court.

”Here’s a guy who deserves to be out here as much as anyone and would be one of the better players in the tournament, of course,” coach Mike White said. ”And he can’t do it. He’s not allowed to do it. Hopefully we can play with a bunch of gratitude and just be thankful that we have an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday.”

NOT FORGOTTEN

When San Diego State practiced at Hinkle Fieldhouse for its first-round game against Syracuse, the Aztecs posed for a team picture while displaying jerseys from the players who left the program after last season, when the tournament was canceled due to the pandemic.

Among the jerseys were those of three players who helped form the core of last season’s 30-2 team – senior transfers Yanni Wetzell and KJ Feagin, and Malachi Flynn. Flynn left after his junior season and was drafted by the Toronto Raptors. The Aztecs also displayed the jerseys of Nolan Narain, who graduated in the spring, and Joel Mensah and Caleb Giordano, who transferred.

The Aztecs tweeted a team picture with the message: ”To the guys who deserved a chance at the dance – we brought a piece of you to Indy with us. You all are building blocks of this program and helped bring us to where we are today.”

SDSU is the No. 6 seed in the Midwest.

LOYALTY TESTED

Matt Mooney’s loyalty is being tested. He played a huge role for Chris Beard and Texas Tech during the Red Raiders’ run to the national championship game in 2019. He might not have been in position to do so if he hadn’t developed into a prolific scorer for Craig Smith at South Dakota the previous two seasons.

Beard’s Red Raiders will play Smith’s Utah State Aggies on Friday in a first-round game at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, and Mooney will be in attendance.

”I love those guys,” Mooney said. ”I’ve got to pull for Tech. That’s where I ended up playing. No matter who wins, I’ll be sad for one and happy for the other.”

Mooney played two seasons at South Dakota after transferring from Air Force. He moved to Texas Tech as a graduate transfer in 2018, the same year Smith left South Dakota for Utah State.

THIRD TIME A CHARM?

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins will try for a third time to get his 900th career win.

West Virginia lost to Oklahoma State in Huggins’ two previous chances at the milestone in the regular-season finale and in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals. The third-seeded Mountaineers (18-9) play No. 13-seeded Morehead State (23-7) on Friday night in Indianapolis.

Huggins has a career record of 899-381 in 39 seasons. He amassed 399 wins in 16 seasons at Cincinnati. He’s also had stops at Kansas State, Akron and NAIA Walsh College.

North Carolina’s Roy Williams got his 900th Division I coaching win earlier this season, joining Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight.

AP Sports Writers Eddie Pells and Ralph Russo in Indianapolis, Mark Long in Gainesville, Florida, Bernie Wilson in San Diego, Eric Olson in Omaha, Nebraska, and John Raby in Morgantown, West Virginia contributed to this report.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and updated bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss

Community Calendar