INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA has completed more than 9,100 COVID-19 tests heading into the NCAA tournament with only eight total positives among Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 personnel.
The tournament begins Thursday with the First Four, featuring games at Indiana’s Assembly Hall and Purdue’s Mackey Arena. The NCAA does not reveal who tested positive, although one came from a game official Monday night. That official and five others who had been in contact were sent home from Indianapolis.
All but one team participating in the tournament has spent the week in Indianapolis. Defending champion Virginia, which had to withdraw from the ACC tournament because of a positive COVID-19 test, is set to arrive Friday afternoon. The Cavaliers must complete two rounds of testing and quarantine before being cleared to practice Saturday at the Indiana Convention Center. Virginia, the No. 4 seed in the West Region, is set to face No. 13 seed Ohio on Saturday night in Bloomington, Indiana.
None of the six venues being used for the NCAA Tournament will have the 25 percent fan capacity allowed by the NCAA, according to Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president for basketball. Gavitt on Thursday revealed the official capacities for each venue: Indiana’s Assembly Hall will allow only 500 spectators, or 3% capacity (limited to family and staff). Mackey Arena will allow 1,350 fans (9% capacity). Hinkle Fieldhouse will have 1,250 fans (14% capacity), while Bankers Life Fieldhouse will have between 2,500 and 3,800 fans (13 to 19% capacity), depending on the ability to safely clean the arena between games. Lucas Oil Stadium, site of the Final Four, will allow 6,900 fans for games at Equality Court and 8,500 fans for games at Unity Court (22% capacity).
When not practicing or players, teams are quarantined to their hotels, where they eat at least two meals per day. But Gavitt said teams have taken advantage of late-night food delivery options with NCAA partners. Wendy’s brought a food truck to deliver more than 1,500 burgers and chicken sandwiches; Buffalo Wild Wings served 61 teams during the past three days and served more than 19,000 wings on its busiest night; and Pizza Hut has delivered 665 pizzas, 208 family-size pastas and 465 breadsticks.
“That’s a lot of food for hungry student-athletes,” Gavitt said.