Sorry, nothing in cart.
March Madness is back. The pandemic caused last year’s NCAA tournament to be canceled, but college basketball’s premier event has returned for 2021, albeit with a few changes to account for COVID-19. Typically, the early rounds are scattered across the country in different “regions,” but this year the 67 men’s games will all take place in Indiana, with the bulk of the action happening in Indianapolis. Because of this change, tweaks have also been made to the seeding process for figuring out which teams are playing in which group.
With this year’s bracket now set, the First Four games will take place tonight before the first round begins Friday. Here is what you need to know about the 2021 men’s tournament
When does the tournament start?
In the past, the first round of the tournament usually begins on a Thursday, with a second slate of opening-round games taking place on Friday before the second round on Saturday and Sunday.
As part of the changes for this year’s tournament, the NCAA moved things around a bit. The “First Four,” the games to decide the final play-in slots, are now happening today, Thursday, March 18, while the first-round games have been moved to Friday and Saturday. The second round will take place starting on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22
What is the schedule for the tournament?
As with past years, you’ll need to have CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV to catch all the action. Here’s the full list of dates to keep in mind, as well as which networks will have coverage.
First Four: Thursday, March 18 on TruTV and TBS starting at 5:10 p.m. ET (2:10 p.m. PT)
First Round: Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20 on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV starting at 12:15 p.m. ET (9:15 a.m. PT)
Second Round: Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22 on CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV
Sweet 16: Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 on CBS (afternoon games) and TBS (primetime games)
Elite Eight: Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30 on CBS (Monday) and TBS (Tuesday)
Final Four: Saturday, April 3 on CBS
National Championship: Monday, April 5 on CBS
Who is playing in the First Four games?
Here’s the schedule of the First Four games, which will take place on Thursday, March 18.
Texas Southern vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 5:10 p.m. ET (2:10 p.m. PT) on TruTV
Drake vs. Wichita State, 6:27 p.m. ET (3:27 p.m. PT) on TBS
Appalachian State vs. Norfolk State, 8:40 p.m. ET (5:40 p.m. PT) on TruTV
UCLA vs. Michigan State, 9:57 p.m. ET (6:57 p.m. PT) on TBS
Who are the top seeds, where can I find the bracket?
Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois are the top seeds in the tournament with each a No. 1 seed in their respective regions. The full bracket can be found at a number of locations including on the NCAA’s website.
Can I watch without a cable subscription?
You can, though because of the various networks it could get a little complicated.
Streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV and AT&T TV offer all four of the channels you’ll need to catch the action, but they start at $65 per month ($70 per month for AT&T). Cheaper streaming services like Sling TV’s $35 per month Blue package have TBS, TNT and TruTV but lack CBS. FuboTV has CBS, but lacks TNT, TBS and TruTV.
You can also get CBS with an antenna or with Paramount Plus, the new name for CBS All Access, a streaming service that runs $6 per month.
Games will be available to stream on the NCAA’s March Madness Live website and app, with the CBS-broadcasted games available for free without needing to first authenticate with a cable provider. Watching the games that are broadcast on TBS, TNT and TruTV, however, will require you to first log in with your cable provider’s credentials