LIVE Illinois-Penn St. as Illini look to snap two-game losing streak

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CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Details are coming together for March Madness in Indianapolis. This year’s tournament is being held entirely in the state of Indiana, spread around several venues, including Assembly Hall in Bloomington and Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.

There are other changes due to COVID-19, most notably the schedule of when games are played. Instead of a normal Thursday-Sunday schedule the first two weekends, the First Four games will now be on Thursday, March 18. First round games will be played Friday and Saturday, March 19-20, with second round matchups on Sunday and Monday, March 21-22.

Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games will be the following weekend, but won’t start until Saturday, March 27. Three straight days of basketball will follow, running all the way until Tuesday night, March 30. The National Semifinals and National Championship game will be the same Saturday/Monday format, running April 3 and 5, respectively.

Selection Sunday is set for March 14. The NCAA bracket itself will be handled a little bit differently because the entire tournament is in Indiana. The top four seeds will be handled the same and so will the First Four. The changes will come in how the rest of the bracket is completed. Teams will be placed in the bracket based on rankings without the usual considerations for geography. This is called using the “S-curve” to fill the bracket. There will be 37 at-large selections (one more than normal) and 31 automatic qualifiers (one fewer than normal).

2021 March Madness: Complete schedule, dates

Selection SundaySunday, March 14 
First FourThursday, March 18Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
First RoundFriday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Lucas Oil Stadium
Second RoundSaturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Lucas Oil Stadium
Sweet 16Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse
Elite EightMonday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30Lucas Oil Stadium
Final FourSaturday, April 3 and Monday, April 5Lucas Oil Stadium

No. 22 Illinois is looking to punch its first ticket to the Big Dance since 2013. The Illini are doing some soul searching now though, after back-to-back home losses. Penn State rolls into State Farm Center Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in a game that was originally scheduled to be played on Wednesday. COVID-19 forced the Nittany Lions (3-5, 0-4 B1G) to pause earlier this month, forcing several postponements. The Illini got down 19-4 in Happy Valley in December, but went on a big second half run to leave with the road win. Now in the first repeat matchup this season, Illinois needs a confidence boost to propel it back in the right direction.

“We had to figure out what we wanted our season to be, whether that’s continuing to lose, put our head down, and be the team we wanted to be and compete for a Big Ten title,” Illinois senior guard Trent Frazier said on Zoom Monday afternoon.

“You don’t achieve greatness without having a roadblock or two, and we’ve got a great locker room who’s very passionate, about being successful and reaching their potential,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said. “And I think that’s the same as last year.”

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