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It's official: The 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament will be held entirely in Indiana from late March to early April.
Why it matters: In terms of sheer size, the 68-team, 67-game hoops bonanza will be unlike anything we've seen during sports' pandemic era.
It's been a year for sports unlike any other, and unlike we'll (hopefully) ever see again.
The big picture: While the outlook for sports during a pandemic looked grim at the outset, leagues got creative and found solutions. Fans adapted. Bubbles formed. Empty stadiums were filled with posterboards, stuffed animals and cardboard cutouts. Players adapted to a new world of isolation and cheerless games.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear the NCAA's appeal of lower court rulings that found the association violated antitrust laws by placing limits on education-related compensation for athletes.
Why it matters: The rulings expanded the range of education-related benefits student-athletes could receive. The NCAA claims this "effectively created a pay-for-play system for all student-athletes, allowing them to be paid both 'unlimited' amounts for participating in 'internships'" and an additional $5,600 or more per year of eligibility.
Vanderbilt University's Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference football game on Saturday when she kicked off to open the second half in her team's game against the University of Missouri.
The big picture: Vanderbilt recently recruited Fuller — who plays goaltender on the school's women's soccer team — as a kicker after some of the school's players had to quarantine due to COVID-19 contact tracing, according to the school.
The University of Alabama's football team said Wednesday that its coach Nick Saban has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Why it matters: The 69-year-old legendary coach will miss the annual Iron Bowl on Saturday, where No. 1 ranked Alabama will take on No. 22 ranked rival Auburn. Saban, who registered a false positive COVID-19 test in October, is experiencing mild symptoms and plans to self-isolate at home.
A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.
Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.
With the college basketball season slated to begin on Wednesday, 35 men's teams are currently in "pause" and quarantining, per Stadium's Jeff Goodman.
Details: Schedules are in constant flux as schools prepare to fly across the country. Take Illinois State, which was supposed to be in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Wednesday, but will now be in Columbus, Ohio.
The pandemic eliminated most Power 5 vs. Group of 5 games this season, costing the smaller Group of 5 schools millions of dollars in game contracts.
Yes, but: Conference-only play, postponed start dates and canceled games have given those schools a chance to climb up the polls and make a name for themselves nationally — an opportunity that a handful have seized.
College athletes continue to graduate at record rates and outperform non-athletes, according to the NCAA's latest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report.
By the numbers: 90% of Division I athletes who enrolled in 2013 earned a degree within six years, up from 74% in 2002 — and an increase of 1% over last year's previous high.
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.