Winthrop arrived in Indianapolis on Saturday and right away, they got hit with the reality that this would be a NCAA Tournament like none other.
“We were in quarantine for about 24 hours from the time we got here until we tested the second time,” said Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey.
If COVID tests are not your thing, you don’t want to be at the NCAA Tournament.
Winthrop had to test negative 7 consecutive times before they could even come to Indianapolis. Testing will continue through out their time at the tournament.
The NCAAA is hoping their “controlled environment” will allow this tournament to run to completion without any delays due to a positive case of COVID.
As a part of the environment there will be no face to face contact with family or fans as long as the team remain in the tournament. Teams will have entire floors at the team hotel and players will be put up in single rooms.
Players will also wear contact tracers to log who they have come in contact with.
These protocols are very demanding of the players and coaches, but they are the necessary steps to make sure this event is safe.
While there are a lot of protocols, let’s not forget, this is the NCAA Tournament and it has a lot of great perks like the food.
“It’s really good,” said coach. “You get to cater to what you like.”
And the travel while in Indianapolis.
“Every where we go whether it was from the airport to the hotel, we have a police escort with 6 state troopers on motorcycles,” said coach Kelsey. “It’s like a presidential motorcade and it’s pretty cool.”
It’s always great when you can just roll through all the stop lights.
On the court, after a week of not know who they would play in the first round of the tournament, time to get down to the business of preparing for Villanova.
Even though Villanova is the Big East regular season champs, a lot of experts like the chances of Winthrop to pull the upset.
Lots of perks and lots of love for Winthrop, but they aren’t going to fall into the the trap of complacency. They are in the Hoosier State on a mission.
“We’re not here to just have a good time and get the handouts, we’re here to win and advance,” said Winthrop guard Chandler Vaudrin. “So for us, this is a business trip and we are extremely locked in. It’s a lot of fun and a huge dream come true, but we got other goals for this trip.”