Zoo field trips, Topgolf: How teams are breaking up monotony of men’s NCAA Tournament ‘bubble’

With 68 teams playing 67 games across nearly three weeks in six different venues located in and around the Indianapolis metropolitan area, the men's NCAA Tournament can be seen as a logistical achievement in the vein of the Olympic Games.

"To me, everything was incredible," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "The facilities. The food. The treatment. The practice facilities. I think it was maybe one of the greatest things that ever took place."

Dramatic hyperbole aside, the feelings of gratitude several coaches and players have expressed toward the NCAA for conducting this year's tournament has roots in a pretty simple concept: Last year's postseason was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so any tournament is better than none.

That's true even for an NCAA Tournament held under stringent health and safety protocols that shuttle teams between three primary locations — the hotel, the practice and training setup, and one of the six playing venues — and largely sequester players and coaches inside living areas, socially distanced from the general public.

"It’s a necessary evil in a global pandemic," said Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey.

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