Coaches, players say NCAA basketball in a bubble has a prison-like feel

NCAA Tournament bubble
Posted at 4:25 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 20:33:48-04

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - If any squad in the 68-team NCAA men's basketball tournament plays defense like the NCAA is guarding it's players in Indiana - that team will absolutely win the title.

Due to COVID-19, the NCAA has established a bubble for all 34 members of each and every team's traveling party to Indianapolis. Team hotels are locked-down, as players and coaches are prohibited from having any contact with the outside world.

Norfolk State is staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. The only guests at the hotel are the 14 teams staying there - and each school has its own floor. Nobody else is allowed in, as evident by the police presence outside every entrance to the hotel.

All transportation is conducted via charter bus or skyway, as coaches and players are not allowed to walk the streets.

Norfolk State head coach Robert Jones compares the NCAA Tournament bubble to a prison.

"I would probably equate it to the nicest jail you could be in right now," Jones, who pointed out he's never been to prison, admitted. "[Monday]was my first time outside since Saturday."

"We're not able to leave the hotel and roam around the city like we want to," NSU guard Joe Bryant Junior said. "We have to stay in the hotel and be safe as possible."

"It's not the easiest thing," Jones added. "I think what's helping everybody is the excitement of playing in March Madness. If we weren't playing in March Madness, this would be crazy."

Norfolk State, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012, plays Appalachian State Thursday at 8:40 p.m. in the First Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.