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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The NCAA announced Monday that it will consolidate March Madness to a single city in 2021, likely Indianapolis.

Why it matters: The NCAA lost $375 million when it canceled March Madness this past spring, and with COVID-19 surging heading into the winter, utilizing a bubble could be the only way to successfully complete the event.

The state of play: The 13 cities originally slated to host preliminary round games will have to wait until 2022 or beyond to get another chance.

  • The cities missing out include Brooklyn; Dallas; Detroit; Denver; San Jose, California; Minneapolis; Memphis, Tennessee; Raleigh, North Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; Wichita, Kansas; Dayton, Ohio; Boise, Idaho; Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Indianapolis was supposed to host the Final Four. Now, it could host the entire 68-team tournament.

Possible locations: Assuming each arena can handle four games per day (noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm), then even during the packed first round (16 games per day) they shouldn't need more than four arenas. Some options that could work:

  • Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Colts
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler University
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum, IUPUI
  • IUPUI Gymnasium, IUPUI

Worth noting: The NBA season will be in full swing, so the Pacers' home court, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, isn't an option. If more than four arenas are needed, smaller gyms — or ones outside the city center — could be in play.

The bottom line: The regular season could get thrown into disarray long before March arrives. But if it's completed as scheduled, a bubble awaits the 68 teams ready to go dancing.

What to watch: No word yet on the women's tournament. Their Final Four was scheduled to be held in San Antonio.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.