April 2, 2021

Final Four Weekend: Science Behind the Sports 'Bubbles'

Final Four weekend is the highlight of the season for college basketball fans. Due to COVID-19, last year's tournament was cancelled, and this year's tournament looks very different.

Both the women's and men's NCAA basketball tournaments have been played in "bubbles" to limit exposure and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.

Normally the tournament games are held at different sites across the country, but to limit travel and minimize exposure each tournament played all their games in a single metropolitan area. Women's teams have been playing in San Antonio, Texas, the men's teams are playing in Indianapolis.

The idea of a "bubble" isn't a new one during this pandemic. The National Basketball Association finished its 2019-20 season in Orlando, Fla., an event largely viewed as a success. The National Hockey League, National Women's Soccer League and Major League Soccer also employed "bubble" models for parts of their 2020 seasons.

Both of this year's NCAA basketball tournaments have successfully made it to the final four weekend with no major issues, with only one men's team having to withdraw from the tournament due to COVID-19.

While most of the attention with these "bubble" events is on the single location aspect, other mitigation measured include constant testing, mask wearing, limited fans in attendance, and strict rules off the court.

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