7 positive COVID-19 tests so far out of 6,900 for March Madness in Indy
As of Wednesday morning, seven positive COVID-19 cases have been identified out of more than 6,900 completed tests for Tier 1, 2 and 3 individuals at the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship in Indiana.
At Wednesday’s media briefing, NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt said the testing numbers — equal to a positivity rate of about 0.1%, lower than local and national rates — are due to the commitment to safety and risk mitigation efforts made by student-athletes, coaches and staff.
“Considering the 67 teams have joined us in Indianapolis from all over the nation, I think it’s a credit to all the teams and institutions and the risk mitigation that they have been practicing throughout their preparation of coming into Indy for March Madness, as well as the seven days of (negative) tests that were required before arriving in Indy, as well,” Gavitt said. “Of course, that risk mitigation and that daily testing continues here in the controlled environment, and we’re hopeful that the success of keeping everybody healthy and safe will continue.”
Due to this success, Gavitt confirmed that no teams needed to withdraw from the 68-team bracket by Tuesday night’s deadline. As a result, the four replacement teams identified by the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and backup automatic qualifiers for single-bid conferences will not be used for the championship.
Below are a few other takeaways from Wednesday’s briefing. View the full recording here.
Practices and Preparation
On Tuesday, 59 teams practiced in the Indiana Convention Center, with practices starting as early as 9 a.m. and some ending after 11 p.m. The eight teams competing in the First Four games Thursday practiced at their respective competition venues Tuesday, either Indiana’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall or Purdue’s Mackey Arena.
Gavitt said five of the six competition venues and the Convention Center would be used for Wednesday’s practices. Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home to the Indiana Pacers, is unavailable Wednesday due to their game against the Brooklyn Nets. It will be available for practice starting Thursday.
A large weight room is also set up and will continue being used by teams throughout the tournament at the convention center. Additionally, an athletic training center is available for teams there.
Gavitt offered some insight into the efforts being made to provide a positive experience for teams in the controlled environment.
Among them, teams can use Victory Field — home to the Indianapolis Indians, a Triple-A baseball team — to get outside of their hotels and enjoy some activities together. Some specific offerings at Victory Field include football, soccer, badminton and cornhole, among others. The stadium is near all the team hotels and considered an extension of the NCAA’s controlled environment.
“Teams are not required to be in their rooms the entire time,” Gavitt said. “As long as they stay within the controlled environment, which is the four-team hotels and the Convention Center, and they practice good physical distancing, they can be out and moving around as much as they want.”
Within the controlled environment, teams also can access a library for books and an academic resource center for school needs. Each player was also gifted the book “I Came as a Shadow” about the late Georgetown head coach John Thompson and a 500-piece puzzle as part of a gift package. Gavitt said plenty of teams have brought their own forms of entertainment, including one that had a whiffle ball set shipped to its hotel.