BYU Basketball Settles Into NCAA Tournament Bubble Life
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – BYU basketball arrived in Indianapolis less than 24 hours after hearing they would be a 6-seed in the historic 2021 NCAA Tournament.
The Cougars rolled into the Circle City around 1:55 p.m. (MT)/3:55 p.m. (ET) on Monday. A police escort then transported them to their team hotel near Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. Where they now settle in and look to avoid any negative COVID-19 tests between now and Saturday evening.
The NCAA requires all Tier 1 individuals (team travel party and officials) to have seven negative COVID-19 tests before playing in March Madness.
What BYU Basketball will do in NCAA Tournament Bubble
Getting into the bubble was Mark Pope’s greatest sense of urgency immediately after getting official word his program was back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2015. From there, it’s about finding a way to pass the time till hoops.
“These 18, 19, 20, and 21 year-olds are going to be quarantined in our rooms for 24 hours where you can’t even leave your room. You’re stuck in your room by yourself,” said BYU coach Mark Pope. “Then, especially for the next five days, we’re going to be in the hotel. The only time we can leave our floor is to go to practice for an hour and fifteen minutes. Then go to a lift for 45 minutes, and then the time we have in our meeting space. So these guys are gonna be really, really quarantined. I imagine they’ll get a little stir crazy.”
The Big Dance Swag Box
Once in the team hotel, BYU was welcomed with a swag box that featured “The Big Dance” apparel that included a hat, flag, blanket, string backpack, socks, keychains, pillowcases, and more. The NCAA’s hospitality team also provided deodorant, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, and basic hygiene essentials.
The box included a copy of the late great Georgetown head coach John Thompson’s book “I Came As A Shadow.” So if players want to spend their team reading, they have a great book to pull from now.
Speaking of books, senior leaders Alex Barcello and Matt Haarms pointed to this time in Indianapolis as an opportunity to “hit the books” and stay on top of grades and their academics. BYU, unlike most schools this time of the year, doesn’t have a spring break. Well, they get one day (Friday, March 19th). Better than nothing, right? So while juggling a “One Shining Moment” opportunity, the players will utilize the time to continue their studies.
Pope promised his team would create some fun activities and content to keep things interesting while the team waits to play against either Michigan State or UCLA. One can only hope that fun content includes a music session with Caleb Lohner and Richard Harward. Both guys brought guitars with them on their trip that everyone around the BYU program hopes is a lengthy stay in Indianapolis.
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