Fans eagerly awaiting Sweet 16 will have to wait a few more days in 2021; the NCAA tournament pushed the third round of March Madness back from its usual start date of Thursday.
As with most schedule changes, it has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
So no, you won’t be able to watch Villanova-Baylor or Oral Roberts-Arkansas on Thursday, or watch Creighton-Gonzaga, Florida State-Michigan, or Oregon-USC on Friday.
Here’s everything you need to know about the lineup change, plus a full TV list for the Sweet 16 games. Until then, you just need a little patience:
Is March Madness tonight?
The NCAA tournament will not play any games on Thursday or Friday. In most seasons, the Sweet 16 starts on the first day and ends on the second. But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a slight restructuring of the first cycles, starting with the first four.
The four-game opening slate normally takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday after the Sunday selection, with two games played each day. The NCAA was to take extra precautions in 2021 to ensure not only that playing teams will be healthy, but also replacement could be produced in case a team gives up.
Because of this, the NCAA has set a 6 p.m. deadline on Tuesday for teams to enter the tournament as a replacement. In a normal season that would have been the day the top four started. By putting those policies in place, the NCAA was forced to consolidate all of the first four on Thursday – the traditional start date for the first round.
The delayed start of the first round also had a domino effect on subsequent rounds: while the Sweet 16 would normally start a week after the first round – Thursday – it was pushed back two more days, until Saturday. The Elite Eight also returned on Monday and Tuesday.
The Final Four and National Championship game will retain their original dates of April 3 and 5, respectively.
NCAA Tournament Calendar
Saturday March 27
|Game 53: No.12 Oregon State vs. No.8 Loyola Chicago||2:40 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 54: No.5 Villanova vs. No.1 Baylor||5:15 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 55: No 15 Oral Roberts vs. No 3 Arkansas||7:25 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 56: No.11 Syracuse vs. No.2 Houston||9:55 p.m.||TBS|
Sunday March 28
|Game 57: No.5 Creighton vs. No.1 Gonzaga||2:10 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 58: Florida State # 4 vs Michigan # 1||5 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 59: No.11 UCLA vs No.2 Alabama||7:15 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 60: # 7 Oregon vs # 6 USC||9:45 p.m.||TBS|
Monday March 29
Tuesday March 30
|Game 63||7 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 64||9:45 p.m.||TBS|