CHICAGO – Once again, “March Madness” is back and things are much more normal than they were a year ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2021 NCAA Tournament to be played entirely in Indianapolis with fan capacity severely limited due to restrictions for the virus. On top of that, players remained mostly isolated for the week with limited interactions with anyone outside of the team.

That’s not the case in 2022 as travel around the country, open practices, and full fan capacity are back for the teams that qualified for the “Big Dance.” Illinois and Loyola are among those in the Division-I men’s tournament as each team is back in the same region for a second-straight year.

Both squads are in a very wide-open tournament where a number of teams legitimately have a shot to cut down the nets in New Orleans at the Final Four.

Meanwhile, Northwestern basketball is five years removed from the NCAA Tournament appearance and has had five-straight losing seasons since that breakthrough in 2017. Chris Collins got a vote of confidence from new athletic director Dr. Derrick Gragg for next season, but their future is up in the air.

Paul M. Banks of TheSportsBank.Net joined WGN News Now Sports Talk to discuss a number of topics on the NCAA Tournament and college basketball on Thursday.

Along with basketball, Paul also covers European soccer heavily and discussed the move by the Ricketts family to put in a bid for the EPL’s Chelsea Football Club.

You can watch his full discussion with Larry Hawley in the video above.