Every year, college basketball fans from around the country await the NCAA Men’s National Basketball Tournament, or as it’s better known, March Madness. Figuring out how to create your bracket, having it get busted almost immediately, and rooting for your team (or even the Cinderella stories rolling through their regions) is enough to remind anyone why we love this time of year, as it’s truly inspiring to watch these athletes are putting it all out on the line. Since they’ll be playing during the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s March Madness schedule is going to be just a touch different from how the tournament has been held in the past.
- Selection Sunday—March 14th
- First Round—March 18th
- Second Round—March 19th-20th
- Sweet Sixteen—March 27th-28th
- Elite Eight—March 29th-30th
- Final Four—April 3rd
- National Championship—April 5th
The first event on the March Madness Schedule is Selection Sunday, which will take place on March 14th. After winners from conference tournaments have been decided, division 1 athletic directors and conference commissions on the selection committee come together on this auspicious day to decide who will be in the running to win the title of NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions.
Joe Lombardi’s Bracketology should give fans an idea for how the bracket will ultimately look, but you won’t be able to start filling out a bracket until the results are official. One thing we do know though, since it’s been in play since the 2016-17 season, is that the 32 teams who win their respective conference tournaments are granted automatic bids. Most of the top ranking 25 teams by this time are practically assured bids to the Big Dance, but considerations such as their conference strength and if they lost their conference tournaments to a “weaker” team could result in their being snubbed by the selection committee.
The last step before the fun begins will be for the NCAA selection committee to seed each team according to their probability of advancing to the final game. Fans will be able to watch Selection Sunday beginning at 6 PM on CBS.
The First Four
The 67-game tournament begins with four play-in games. Eight teams contest for the #11-#14 seeds in the bracket. Oftentimes, these are the teams overlooked or hyped up when making bracket choices, but only real fans of college basketball know what they’ve been up to all season, potentially making (or most likely busting) your brackets if you sleep on them. These games will be played on Thursday, March 18, 2021, between Mackey Arena and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, with TV coverage at 4 PM on TruTV and TBS.
The First and Second Rounds
The first round will take place between Friday March 19th and Saturday March 20th, starting at 12 noon both days. March Madness is a one and done deal, meaning that after a team loses, they go home, where they can comfortably watch the remainder of the games on CBS, TBS, TruTv and TNT. These games will be played at a number of stadiums; including, Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Lucas Oil Stadium. Round robin coverage and updated scores will most likely be available on March Madness Live, or any of the networks the games will be televised on.
After the first round, the tournament will only have 32 teams left. The beginning of the second round will set off the very next day, Sunday March 21st, and run through Monday, March 22nd. Coverage for this round and the later stages of the championship will be on the same four channels and hosted between the same locations.
The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight
The Sweet Sixteen is the first time all this March Madness terminology refers to how many teams are left in play. At this point, it is incredibly likely your bracket’s been busted by a Cinderella story (or a bad choice), advancing ahead of higher seeded teams.
These games will run through Saturday and Sunday, March 27th and 28th, giving players a full week to recover from the earlier stages of the tournament. Winners of these games move onto the quarter-finals, the Elite Eight, and play on either Monday, March 29th, or Tuesday, March 30th, at the Lucas Oil stadium, where the rest of the championship games will be played.
The Final Four
The Final Four is the semi-final of the NCAA March Madness tournament, with one team left from each region, taking place on the first Saturday of April, the 3rd. Games begin at 5 PM, available to watch from home on CBS, where the winners will take their shot at the title.
National Championship Game
The final event played in the March Madness schedule is the championship game on Monday, April 5th, at 9 PM. With the last leg of the championship on the horizon, players, as well as fans, are bound to be charged with energy. Socially distanced watch parties, bracket banter buzzing around the office or dorms, and the entirety of some young men’s collegiate basketball career will play out in 40 minutes of regulation play, the summation of the 2020-2021 season. Only one team takes home gold and the glory.
Don’t miss out!
Whether you’re decked out in your favorite team’s hats and sweatshirts everywhere you go or a fair-weather fan who enjoys the camaraderie of this once-a-year event, nearly everyone eventually checks in on the insanity that comes with March Madness. Due to some precautions for Covid-19, the NCAA has determined that there will be a number of precautions taken for teams’ safety, including playing in a bubble and allowing fans at only 25% capacity, but at least it’s a step up from cancelling the event last year. So, with this handy March Madness schedule in mind, you’ll know exactly when to ditch your thesis for three-pointers and ballpoint pens for buckets. Just make sure to have your mic muted with the game going on in the background!