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 Gonzaga, the only remaining undefeated team. The Bulldogs are the clear No. 1 seed. And while there are a host of “good” teams in this year’s field, they are still a distance behind the Bulldogs.
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.
March Madness bracket 2021
NCAA Tournament schedule 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|
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.
Thursday, March 18
|Game 1: No. 16 Mount St Mary’s vs. No. 16 Texas Southern||5:10 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 2: No. 11 Wichita State vs. No. 11 Drake||6:27 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 3: No. 16 Norfolk State vs. No. 16 Appalachian State||8:40 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 4: No. 11 Michigan State vs. No. 11 UCLA||9:57 p.m.||TBS|
Friday, March 19
|Game 5: No. 10 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Florida||12:15 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 6: No. 14 Colgate vs. No. 3 Arkansas||12:45 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 7: No. 16 Drexel vs. No. 1 Illinois||1:15 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 8: No. 11 Utah State vs. No. 6 Texas Tech||1:45 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 9: No 15 Oral Roberts vs. No. 2 Ohio State||3 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 10: No. 16 Hartford vs. No. 1 Baylor||3:30 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 11: No. 9 Georgia Tech vs. No. 8 Loyola Chicago||4 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 12: No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Tennessee||4:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 13: No. 13 Liberty vs. No. 4 Oklahoma State||6:25 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 14: No. 9 Wisconsin vs. No 8 North Carolina||7:10 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 15: No. 15 Cleveland State vs. No. 2 Houston||7:15 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 16: No. 13 North Texas vs. No. 4 Purdue||7:25 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 17: No. 10 Rutgers vs. No. 7 Clemson||9:20 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 18: No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 6 San Diego State||9:40 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 19: No. 14 Morehead State vs. No. 3 West Virginia||9:50 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 20: No. 12 Winthrop No. 5 Villanova||9:57 p.m.||TNT|
Saturday, March 20
|Game 21: No. 12 Georgetown vs. No. 5 Colorado||12:15 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 22: No. 13 UNC Greensboro vs. No. 4 Florida State||12:45 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 23: No. 14 Eastern Washington vs. No. 3 Kansas||1:15 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 24: No. 9 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 8 LSU||1:45 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 25: No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s/Texas Southern vs. No. 1 Michigan||3 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 26: No. 12 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 Creighton||3:30 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 27: No. 15 Iona vs. No. 2 Alabama||4 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 28: No. 11 Wichita State/Drake vs. No. 6 USC||4:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 29: No. 15 Grand Canyon vs. No. 2 Iowa||6:25 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 30: No. 10 Maryland vs. No. 7 UConn||7:10 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 31: No. 13 Ohio vs. No. 4 Virginia||7:15 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 32: No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 8 Oklahoma||7:25 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 33: No. 16 Norfolk State/Appalachian State vs. No. 1 Gonzaga||9:20 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 34: No. 11 Michigan State/UCLA vs. No. 6 BYU||9:40 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 35: No. 14 Abilene Christian vs. No. 3 Texas||9:50 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 36: No. 10 VCU vs. No. 7 Oregon||9:57 p.m.||TNT|
Sunday, March 21
Sunday’s second-round tip times will be announced after Friday’s games.
|Game 37||Noon||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 38||2:30 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 39||5 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 40||6 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 41||7 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 42||7:30 p.m.||truTV|
|Game 43||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 44||9:30 p.m.||TBS|
Monday, March 22
Monday’s second-round tip times will be announced after Saturday’s games.
|Game 45||Noon||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 46||2:30 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 47||5 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 48||6 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 49||7 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 50||7:30 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 51||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Game 52||9:30 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
Saturday, March 27
|Game 53||2:30 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 54||5 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 55||7:15 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 56||9:45 p.m.||TBS|
Sunday, March 28
|Game 57||2 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 58||4:45 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
|Game 59||7 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 60||9:45 p.m.||TBS|
Monday, March 29
Tuesday, March 30
|Game 63||7 p.m.||TBS|
|Game 64||9:45 p.m.||TBS|
Saturday, April 3
NCAA Tournament national championship
Monday, April 5
|Game 67||9 p.m.||CBS, fuboTV|
How to watch March Madness 2021 live
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)|
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:
*Indicates venue will host only first-round games
|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|
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 are led by Baylor at +250 odds; Gonzaga is a close second at +275, with Michigan coming in at third with +450 odds.
Below are the teams most like to win the 2021 NCAA Tournament (as of Sunday, March 14):
- Gonzaga (+200)
- Baylor (+600)
- Michigan (+600)
- Illinois (+700)
- Iowa (+1600)
- Houston (+1800)
- Alabama (+2100)
- Ohio State (+2400)
- Florida State (+3000)
- Oklahoma State (+3000)
- Virginia (+3000)
- UConn (+3200)
- Arkansas (+4200)
- Creighton (+4200)
- Kansas (+4200)
- Purdue (+4200)
- Texas (+4200)
- Texas Tech (+4200)
- West Virginia (+4200)
- Wisconsin (+4200)
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 on Feb. 19 announced it would allow 25 percent capacity for NCAA Tournament games, including players, coaches, essential staff, visiting family members and a reduced number of fans. The NCAA later specified that exact capacity percentages would vary by site and venue, depending on capacity and COVID-19 mandates. Moreover, any fans in attendance will be required to wear face coverings and physically distance at the event.
“We continue to use the knowledge we have gained over the season on how to conduct games in a safe environment,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in. a statement. “I want to thank our host universities and conferences, the Indiana State Health Department, and the leaders in the Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe county health departments as they help make that possible.”
First Four tickets through the NCAA are no longer available, though the NCAA does have options to buy tickets starting with the first and second rounds. Below are the dates to buy tickets through the organization for each of the ensuing rounds, from the Sweet 16 through the Elite Eight:
Ticket portals open at 10 a.m. ET
- Sweet 16: Tuesday, March 16
- Elite Eight: Tuesday, March 16
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|