Fans are pumped for the first round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament
With COVID-19 rules lifted, fans will be back in the stands for the games. New name, image and likeness rules will allow student athletes to profit from break performances .
A MARTINEZ, HOST :
OK, so the NCAA tournament has been going on a copulate of days with the preliminary play-in games, but the big indicate starts today – first round of the Division 1 men ‘s tournament. That ‘s when Davids sling their stones at Goliaths and everything else in between happens. And the women ‘s big show gets started tomorrow. Joining us now is NPR sports analogous Tom Goldman. Tom, all right, we ‘ll get to the actual basketball in just a minute. First, I think we got to recognize that while the coronavirus is still with us, this class ‘s tournament about feel post-pandemic. How so ?
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE : yea. Well, fans are back in wide effect, A. Cheerleaders and bands are back, excessively. That ‘s very important. They were both missing last class. There will be games throughout the nation. last season, of run, the men played merely in Indiana, the women in Texas, to reduce COVID risk. Some arenas will require masks and proof of inoculation. It depends on local anesthetic laws. But compared to last season ‘s restrictions and the year before when there were n’t any tournaments, this one decidedly will seem more normal .
MARTINEZ : In late years, come March Madness meter, we ‘ve heard a lot of criticism about how it ‘s the consequence itself that makes a short ton of money – none of that money going to the athletes, who make it all potential. But that ‘s unlike now .
goldman : It sure is, and it ‘s a ocean change. You know, we ‘re now in the era of NIL, where athletes, men and women, can get compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness. so now, if a player has a great tournament, a mechanism is in station for that actor to possibly take advantage financially. And it ‘s long delinquent .
MARTINEZ : All veracious. now, besides, last class, we heard a lot about gender equity. And I ‘m thinking back to that viral video a female player made showing a very negligible weight room at a tournament site for the women. What has happened since ?
goldman : Right. Yeah. You know, there have been changes. For the first meter, the women ‘s tournament has expanded to 68 teams, like the men. besides, the women are now being allowed to use March Madness post, which they have n’t in the by. We ‘ll see that showing up actually on courts in later rounds. other improvements are in the works, but there ‘s hush refer. In fact, this workweek, three U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert saying there has been inadequate build up on male and female inequities in all of NCAA sport. So you ‘re going to see these issues continue .
MARTINEZ : now to the hardwood on the men ‘s side. What should we focus on ?
goldman : You ‘ve got your four No. 1 seeds – Kansas, Arizona, Gonzaga, Baylor. Of course, those last two played for the backing concluding year. Baylor won. You know, A, the seedings mean something. Over the past 20 years, No. 1 seeds have won 68 % of the fourth dimension. But obviously, it ‘s not a lock. There are strong No. 2 seeds this year, like Duke and Kentucky. They ‘re back after both missing the tournament last year for the first meter since 1976 .
You know, and there are so many great players with interesting stories. I will pick one, which is wholly unfair – a 6 ‘ 7 ” guard from South Korea. Hyun-jung Lee plays for Davidson, the educate most celebrated for Steph Curry, immediately of Golden State Warriors fame. Like Curry, Lee is a great three-point shooter. He ‘s truly – a very good all-around actor, enormously popular in his native state. And it shows, even again, basketball ‘s ball-shaped spread .
MARTINEZ : All right, what about on the women ‘s side ?
goldman : You know, even though the field expanded to 68 teams, there ‘s however not as much depth in the women ‘s game. So you should see the ability teams moving on, you know, well into the tournament. The No. 1 seeds are South Carolina, defending chomp Stanford, North Carolina State, Louisville. You will notice perennial office UConn is not in that group. The Huskies had a down class for them, largely because their best musician, Paige Bueckers, was out with an wound for a long time. She ‘s back – UConn looking a set better of late. But, you know, it ‘s a vulnerable team, and the Huskies could fall short of another title .
MARTINEZ : That ‘s NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks a distribute.
goldman : You ‘re welcome, A .
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