We learned earlier this month that Assembly Hall would be used as an NCAA Tournament venue this March. Now, we know the specific stage it will serve.
The NCAA announced Tuesday that Assembly Hall and Mackey Arena will split hosting duties of the First Four games on March 18, then join Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium as first-round sites on Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20. The four Indianapolis venues will then serve as the sites for the remainder of the tournament.
The centralized location isn’t the only big change to the plans for March Madness. The tournament dates are also shifting. Instead of holding the First Four games on a Tuesday night, those contests will tip off on a Thursday, as noted above. From there, the first and second rounds will be played in a Friday-through-Monday window, rather than in the traditional Thursday-through-Sunday window.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse will house Sweet 16 games on Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, with each game getting its own television slot. The Elite Eight will unfold in prime time across Monday and Tuesday, March 29 and 30. Finally, the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium is the pick to host the Final Four on Saturday and Monday, April 3 and 5 — a sign that organizers seem to be holding out hope that perhaps some fans will be able to attend at least a small portion of the tournament.
We’ll see, of course — just as we’ll see if IU can manage to secure a ticket to the mega-event playing out in its own backyard. The Hoosiers are slotted at No. 58 in the latest NET rankings, No. 32 in the KenPom ratings and No. 31 at Bart Torvik.