March Madness 2021 is on, and players know to follow COVID protocols. Here are teams to watch

The NCAA March Madness logo is displayed on the Ross-Ade Stadium video board ahead of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games at Mackey Arena, Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in West Lafayette. Photo by Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The men’s NCAA tournament starts on Thursday. All the teams will play in Indiana. It’s a less-strict bubble than the NBA’s. The women’s tournament will be in Texas.

Mainstay teams such as Duke and Kentucky won’t be in the competition this year. According to Randy Sklar, that could be due to a trend often seen in college basketball: high-profile players stay on a team for a year and are then drafted into the professional world. The pandemic has then led to a new culture on the team with different team dynamics.

“A lot of these teams that have just young talent that’s really good but weren’t cohesive and just came in this year, they just kind of fell apart,” Randy Sklar says.

COVID-19 infections continue to pose a threat to student athletes, but both Randy and Jason Sklar argue that student athletes will be cautious once they enter their respective basketball bubbles.

“It’s a precarious situation. … We look at certain teams that have been sequestered from the rest of campus ... not seeing other students, not going to parties, they understand what’s at stake. And to even make it into the tournament, they know they have to follow protocol,” Randy Sklar says.

This year, the Sklars say to keep an eye on teams such as the University of Connecticut, Gonzaga University, the University of Michigan, and Illinois.

Credits

Guests:
Randy Sklar - host of “View from the Cheap Seats” podcast - @SklarBrothers, Jason Sklar - host of “View from the Cheap Seats” podcast

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser