For the first time in nearly two calendar years, we will have March Madness.
The 2021 NCAA Tournament, the single-greatest postseason event in organized sports, will take place starting on Thursday, March 18; this, after it was the first major sporting event to be canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic last season. And, even as the pandemic hovers over the sports world, it seems the NCAA and host venues are better prepared to actually host the tournament this year.
Better late than never, right?
While there will be several changes to the 2021 NCAA Tournament, one constant is the fact only a handful of elite teams are expected to win the whole thing. That starts this season with Baylor and Gonzaga, both of which remain undefeated as of Wednesday, Feb. 17. They are clear No. 1 seeds, and will likely command the top two seeds of the tournament. And while there are a host of “good” teams in this year’s field, they are still a distance behind the Bulldogs and Bears.
Just another opportunity for a Cinderella to make history in what will be a historic tournament simply for being played.
Sporting News has you covered on how to watch March Madness 2021, including start and end dates, TV schedule, streaming options, venues, updated betting odds and more.
When is March Madness 2021?
- Start date: Thursday, March 18 (First Four)
- End date: Monday, April 5 (national championship game)
The 2021 NCAA Tournament — comprised of the First Four, Rounds 1 and 2, Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four and national championship game — will begin Thursday, March 18 and conclude on Monday, April 5.
Here is the full schedule for March Madness 2021:
|First Four||March 18|
|Round 1||March 19-20|
|Round 2||March 21-22|
|Sweet 16||March 27-28|
|Elite Eight||March 29-30|
|Final Four||April 3|
|National championship||April 5|
Where is March Madness 2021?
The 2021 NCAA Tournament will be held entirely in the state of Indiana, with the majority of games taking place in the greater Indianapolis area. That’s part of an effort to minimize travel by teams and keep a consistent protocol in place for COVID-19 testing.
That starts with the First Four, which will take place in Mackey Arena and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall; those venues will feature alongside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium (all in Indianapolis) in the first and second rounds. Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse will serve as Sweet 16 venues.
Lucas Oil Stadium concludes the tournament in the Elite Eight, Final Four and national championship rounds. Each venue will feature two courts to play games.
Below is a full rundown on the sites and locations of the NCAA Tournament:
|First Four||West Lafayette, Ind.||Mackey Arena|
|Bloomington, Ind.||Assembly Hall|
|Rounds 1-2||West Lafayette, Ind.||Mackey Arena|
|Bloomington, Ind.||Assembly Hall|
|Indianapolis||Bankers Life Fieldhouse|
|Indiana Farmers Coliseum|
|Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Sweet 16||Indianapolis||Bankers Life Fieldhouse|
|Elite Eight||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Final Four||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
NCAA Tournament schedule 2021
When is Selection Sunday 2021?
Selection Sunday, the day on which the 68-team field is unveiled, will take place on Sunday, March 14. The hour-long show will begin at 6 p.m. ET.
When is the First Four?
The 2021 First Four games will all take place on March 18, as opposed to its previous two-day format. Eight teams — the four lowest-seeded automatic and at-large bids — will take part in the play-in games, which grants access to the tournament proper.
When is the Final Four?
The 2021 NCAA Tournament ends with the Final Four and national championship on April 3 and 5, respectively. All games will take place in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Unlike previous tournaments — which featured regional finals in four separate cities before teams convened for the Final Four host city — the final three rounds will all take place in the same stadium.
How to watch March Madness 2021 live
2021 NCAA Tournament TV schedule
CBS and Turner Sports stations (TBS, TNT and truTV) will split broadcast duties of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, with Turner Sports airing 43 games (20 for TBS, 12 for TNT and 11 for truTV) to CBS’ 24.
CBS has broadcast rights for both the Final Four and national title game, despite the fact Turner Sports couldn’t broadcast those rounds in 2020 due to the tournament’s cancellation (a 2016 contract allows the stations to split the Final Four and national championship rights on an every-other-year rotation).
|First Four||TBS, truTV|
|Round 1||CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV|
|Round 2||CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV|
|Sweet 16||CBS, TBS|
|Elite Eight||CBS, TBS|
CBS and Turner Sports have yet to release their announcer pairings for the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
2021 NCAA Tournament streaming options
Every game in the 2021 NCAA Tournament can be streamed via NCAA March Madness Live; other streaming options include CBS’ streaming service, which will rebrand as Paramount+ on March 4, and fuboTV, which offers a 7-day free trial.
|First Four||NCAA March Madness Live|
|Rounds 1-2||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount+, fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
|Sweet 16||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount+, fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
|Elite Eight||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount+, fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
|Final Four||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount+, fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
|National championship||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount+, fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
Odds to win March Madness 2021
While 64 teams have an equal chance to win the NCAA Tournament at its start, only a handful of teams can make a legitimate run to the national championship. Those teams, as of Wednesday, Feb. 17, are led by Gonzaga and Baylor; both lead the pack at +300 odds. Michigan (+700) and Villanova (+1100) have the third- and fourth-best odds, respectively.
Below are the teams most like to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament (as of Wednesday, Feb. 17):
- Baylor (+300)
- Gonzaga (+300)
- Michigan (+700)
- Villanova (+1100)
- Houston (+1400)
- Ohio State (1+400)
- Texas (+1400)
- Florida State (+1600)
- Illinois (+1800)
- Iowa (+1800)
- Alabama (+2000)
- Texas Tech (+2000)
- Virginia (+2000)
- Wisconsin (+2000)
Future March Madness locations, host sites
Assuming the COVID-19 pandemic comes under control by the start of March Madness 2022, it will take place across several cities over the course of the NCAA Tournament. Each tournament over the next several years will have new venues for the Final Four and national championship games.
Here are the future sites and locations for future Final Fours:
|Year||City||Final Four host site|
|2022||New Orleans||Mercedes-Benz Superdome|
|2024||Phoenix||State Farm Stadium|
|2026||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
NCAA Tournament 2021 tickets
The NCAA has yet to determine whether it will allow even reduced attendance for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has introduced strict procedures for players traveling and staying in Indiana for the tournament, but has not given a definitive answer as to whether fans can watch in person.
According to a Jan. 13 report by the Indianapolis Star, the NCAA said it expected a decision to be made by early February. As it stands now, only six family members of those participating in a given game can attend, with no more than 420 fans in the arena.
More March Madness news by Sporting News
Need a fix on March Madness content before the 2021 NCAA Tournament? Sporting News has you covered:
NCAA Tournament winners
UCLA leads all men’s college basketball programs with 11 national championships, followed by blue bloods Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke.
Virginia is the last team to win the NCAA Tournament, securing its first title in program history in 2019. No team claims the 2020 national championship.
|School||National titles||Most recent||Runner-up finishes|
|North Carolina State||2||1983||0|
|City College of New York||1||1950||0|