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Contingency plan released for teams withdrawing from tournament due to COVID-19 issues

If a team is forced to withdraw, replacement teams will only be introduced into the championship within 48 hours after the announcement of the field.

INDIANAPOLIS — NOTE: The above video is from a previous story on the fan capacity that will be allowed at tournament games.

The NCAA released contingency plans for teams in the 2021 Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships if they have COVID-19-related issues.

The NCAA first laid out four key points about the tournaments:

  • Once the bracket is finalized and released, teams will not be reseeded, nor will the bracket change.
  • Reasonable efforts will be made to ensure a full field is in place before the start of the championship. No replacement teams will be introduced after the championship begins.
  • Every participating conference should have the opportunity for a minimum of one team in the championship field.
  • Beyond the goal of having at least one team from every conference, replacement teams must be among the best teams being considered for an at-large bid.

If a team is forced to withdraw, replacement teams will only be introduced into the championship within 48 hours after the announcement of the field, and at no time thereafter. 

The men’s tournament bracket will be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 14. The women’s bracket will be revealed at 7 p.m. Monday, March 15.

The NCAA will allow up to 25 percent capacity at games. That capacity is for all rounds and the Final Four, and it includes all participants, essential staff and family members of each participating team’s student-athletes and coaches, and a reduced number of fans. 

Specific attendance numbers will depend on the venue and more information about ticket sales will be available after March 1.

The Division I Men's Basketball Championship will tip off with First Four games Thursday, March 18. The entire tournament will be in Indiana, with 55 of the 67 games taking place in Indianapolis.

RELATED: Big Ten makes basketball tournament move to Indianapolis official

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. 

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, according to the NCAA. 

Specific game times have not yet been announced but viewers can expect games in typical broadcast windows, with first- and second-round games on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV.

The Sweet 16 will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, with each of the eight games getting its own television window.

Credit: AP
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. NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in the arenas because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

The Elite Eight games will take place 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.

Selection Sunday is March 14, and "The Big Dance" begins four days later. 

The First Four matchups will work the same as they would in a normal year, with the teams seeded Nos. 65 and 66 playing each other and the teams seeded Nos. 67 and 68 overall facing each other. 

The other First Four games will feature the last four at-large teams on the committee's final seed list playing one another. The four winning teams advance to first-round games taking place March 20.

Safety and health measures include testing, face coverings, physical distancing and contact tracing requirements before teams arrive and throughout their stay in the tournament.

The venues will also undergo thorough cleaning and disinfecting during the tournament.