For the first time in almost two calendar years, we will have March Madness.
The 2021 NCAA Tournament, the largest postseason event in organized sports, will start Thursday, March 18; this, after being the first major sporting event to be canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic last season. And, even as the pandemic hangs over the sports world, it looks like the NCAA and host venues are better prepared to host the tournament this year.
Better late than never, right?
While there are several changes to the 2021 NCAA tournament, one constant is that only a handful of elite teams are expected to win it all. It kicks off this season with Baylor and Gonzaga, both of whom remain unbeaten on Wednesday, February 17. They are clearly No. 1 and will likely command the tournament’s first two seeds. And while there are plenty of “good” teams in this year’s field, they are still way behind the Bulldogs and Bears.
Just another chance for a Cinderella to make history in what will be a historic tournament just for being played.
Sporting News takes you through how to watch March Madness 2021, including start and end dates, TV schedule, streaming options, sites, 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 – consisting of the First Four, Round 1 & 2, Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, and National Championship Game – kicks off Thursday, March 18 and ends Monday, 5 April.
Here is the full schedule for March Madness 2021:
|First four||March 18|
|Round 1||March 19-20|
|2nd round||March 21-22|
|Sweet 16||March 27-28|
|Elite eight||March 29-30|
|Final square||April 3|
|national championship||April 5|
Where is March Madness 2021?
NCAA 2021 tournament will take place entirely in the state of Indiana, the majority of games taking place in the greater Indianapolis area. It’s part of an effort to minimize team travel and keep a consistent protocol in place for COVID-19 testing.
It starts with the First Four, which will take place at Mackey Arena and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall; these venues will be 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 sites.
Lucas Oil Stadium concludes the tournament in the elite round of 16, four finals and the national championship rounds. Each site will have two fields for playing games.
Below is a full rundown of the NCAA tournament venues and locations:
|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 square||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
2021 NCAA Tournament Schedule
When does the selection take place on Sunday 2021?
Selection Sunday, the day the 68-team peloton is announced, will take place on Sunday March 14. The hour-long show will begin at 6 p.m. ET.
When are the first four?
The first four games of 2021 will all take place on March 18, unlike its previous two-day format. Eight teams – the four lowest-ranked automatic and at-large auctions – will participate in the play-in games, which provide access to the tournament itself.
When is the Final Four?
The 2021 NCAA tournament concludes with the Final Four and the National Championship on April 3 and 5, respectively. All games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Unlike previous tournaments – which featured regional finals in four separate cities before the teams met for the host city of the Final Four – 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 share broadcast duties for the 2021 NCAA tournament, with Turner Sports broadcasting 43 games (20 for TBS, 12 for TNT and 11 for truTV) on CBS ’24.
CBS has the broadcast rights for the Final Four and the national title game, despite the fact that Turner Sports was unable to broadcast those rounds in 2020 due to the tournament cancellation (a 2016 contract allows stations to share the rights of the Final Four and the national championship on a rotation every two years).
|First four||TBS, truTV|
|Round 1||CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV|
|2nd round||CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV|
|Sweet 16||CBS, TBS|
|Elite eight||CBS, TBS|
CBS and Turner Sports have yet to release their announcer pairs for the 2021 NCAA tournament.
2021 NCAA Tournament Streaming Options
Every game of the 2021 NCAA tournament can be broadcast via NCAA March Madness Live; other streaming options include CBS’s streaming service, which will be renamed 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 square||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount +, fuboTV (7 day free trial)|
|national championship||NCAA March Madness Live, Paramount +, fuboTV (7 day free trial)|
Odds of winning March Madness 2021
While 64 teams have an equal chance of winning the NCAA tournament when it begins, only a handful of teams can legitimately qualify for the National Championship. These teams, as of Wednesday February 17, are led by Gonzaga and Baylor; both lead the pack with a +300 rating. Michigan (+700) and Villanova (+1100) have the third and fourth best odds, respectively.
Here are the teams that enjoy winning the 2021 NCAA tournament the most (as of Wednesday, February 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 is under control by the start of March Madness 2022, it will unfold in multiple cities during the NCAA tournament. Each tournament over the next few years will have new venues for the Final Four and National Championship games.
Here are the future sites and locations of the 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 even allow a reduction in participation in the 2021 NCAA tournament, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He 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 from Indianapolis Star, the NCAA said it expects a decision to be made in early February. Currently, only six family members of those who participate in a given match 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 ahead of 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, claiming its first title in program history in 2019. No team is claiming the 2020 national championship.
|School||National titles||Most recent||Finalists|
|State of North Carolina||2||1983||0|
|New York City College||1||1950||0|
|the holy cross||1||1947||0|