nationalMarch Madness tips off with First Four games March 18
March Madness tips off with First Four games March 18

March Madness tips off with First Four games March 18

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship will tip off with a quartet of First Four games Thursday, March 18, setting a stage for a March Madness unlike any other in the 82 years of the event.

As previously announced, the entire tournament will be in Indiana, with 55 of the 67 games taking place in Indianapolis. Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington will each host two First Four games and will join Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium as hosts of first-round games Friday and Saturday, March 19 and 20. The four venues in Indianapolis will serve as sites for the remainder of the championship, including second-round games Sunday and Monday, March 21 and 22. While specific game times will be announced later, viewers can expect games in typical broadcast windows, with first- and second-round games on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV.

The Sweet 16 will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, with each of the eight games getting its own television window. In the past, regional semifinal games took place in prime time, with a pair of games overlapping each other in the early evening and late evening sessions. In 2021, all Sweet 16 games will be played at separate times.

The Elite Eight games will take place in prime time Monday and Tuesday, March 29 and 30, and the Final Four is scheduled for Saturday and Monday, April 3 and 5. All those games will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Selection Sunday is March 14, and The Big Dance begins four days later. The First Four matchups will work the same as they would in a normal year, with the overall Nos. 65 and 66 teams playing, and the overall Nos. 67 and 68 teams facing each other. The other First Four games will feature the last four at-large teams on the committee’s final seed list playing one another. The four winning teams advance to first-round games taking place March 20.

“The 2021 March Madness schedule is primarily a function of the health and safety protocols for all participants, respecting conference tournaments, balancing time away from campus for college student-athletes, competitive considerations for a national championship and fan engagement during a relatively traditional tournament timetable,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball. “We are most appreciative of CBS Sports and Turner Sports for their collaboration and support of the tournament.”

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