Will March Madness Have Spectators?


March Madness is here – and if you’re anything like us, you’re jumping for joy. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. In 2020, March Madness was cancelled. It’s finally back!


One of the biggest sports betting events of the year – even sharps will throw money into a bracket for fun. Some estimates say it’s the biggest North American sports betting event – there’s more money placed on March Madness than there is on the Super Bowl. We know we’re more than excited to see how our NCAAB picks pan out. 


While many fans are content to watch the games on the big screen, there’s nothing like being there live and in-person. With all the health guidelines surrounding COVID-19, will there be in-person spectators at March Madness?


The answer is a resounding yes!

Spectators are allowed

You can watch March Madness in the flesh. The entire event is taking place in the state of Indiana. Most games will take place in Indianapolis, but there will be games throughout the state. This decreases the risk of transmission – the players will be in Indiana for the entirety of the tournament.


That means if you can make it to Indiana (and if you can score tickets – more on that later), you can enjoy March Madness in-person. The tournament will take place at the following locations:


  • Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis)
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis)
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Indianapolis)
  • Mackey Arena (West Lafayette) 
  • Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (Bloomington)


March Madness is always pretty crazy – there’s a reason it got its name – but in 2021 it’s going to be madder still. The Sweet 16 is taking place over a single weekend – March 27th and 28th. If you love watching basketball nonstop, get some snacks ready in advance – you’re going to be glued to your screen. And we hope you don’t have anything important to do on Monday the 29th or Tuesday the 30th – because the Elite Eight games are taking place over those two days.


That’s 4 days filled with a whole lot of basketball.


The Final Four will take place the following weekend – two games on Saturday, April 3rd, and the National Championship on Monday, April 5th.


While spectators will be allowed in the stands by the courts, it’s not exactly going to be business as usual. The COVID-19 pandemic cares for little, and a well-attended March Madness is no exception. NCAAB staff and health authorities have worked together to create COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe.

COVID-19 Protocols

The protocols for fans are fairly straightforward. The maximum number of fans at any venue is 25% of that venue’s total capacity. Fans who attend the event together are assigned seating pods which they must remain in. Outside of those seating pods, fans must always remain at least 6 feet apart. Spectators must wear face coverings at all times, and they cannot engage in physical interaction with team members, coaches, officials, or team personnel. 

The protocol for players is quite a bit more complicated. Mark Emmert has already landed in hot water because of differences in how male and female athletes are tested for COVID-19. 


Teams were tested before coming to the Indianapolis bubble. Every member of the team’s traveling party needed to test negative for COVID-19 for 7 days in a row. Additionally, the team and their traveling party are tested daily for the disease. Should a team find themselves unable to play due to COVID-19, they will be replaced in the bracket by another team. 


That would seriously mess up everyone’s bracket, so let’s hope nothing like that happens. Fortunately, with the amount of effort they’ve put into maintaining the bubble, it seems unlikely.

How to buy tickets

Normally, you can buy tickets through NCAA Tickets. Unfortunately, by the time you read this, you’re not going to be able to get any tickets for the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight – they’re all sold out.


That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. You can always try to get aftermarket tickets. A lot of folks buy tickets in the hopes that their team will make it, only to sell them on Stubhub for less than what they paid.


When it comes to Final Four tickets, you may be in luck. The NCAA makes a number of Final Four tickets available to the students of the colleges who make it that far. So, if your team makes it, and you can travel to Indianapolis, you may very well be able to get a ticket.


The rest of the tickets are typically distributed by lottery. You have to sign up at the NCAA Ticket page, and you’ll be notified when you can buy into the lottery. As of the time this article is being written, we don’t know exactly what the fees will be – but for live action college basketball, no number will be too high for some spectators.


Sit back, relax (if you can), and enjoy

Whether you’re watching from home, or you’re lucky enough to be in the stands, you’re in for some exciting games of basketball. When your team makes it far, or your bracket is lining up perfectly, you may not be able to sit back and relax – you may be jumping for joy and shouting at the top of your lungs.


Isn’t that why we love sports?


If you want to add some excitement to the games, and you want to give yourself the best shot of winning some money on these games, take a look at Kyle’s NCAAB picks. Kyle loves college basketball as much as you do, and I can guarantee he’s already picturing the games in his head. If you want to place the best wagers on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, he’s your guy. Also check out Kyle’s NBA picks covers