March Madness 2021: Everything You Need to Know About the NCAA Tournament

College basketball fans rejoice because the road to crowning champions of the 2020–21 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball season begins on Sunday, March 14, 2021. Get your brackets ready because it’s time for the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, also known as NCAA March Madness. This year’s single-elimination tournaments will be the first one held during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic due to being canceled last year for the first time in history for the women’s and since 1939 for the men’s. 

What’s Different This Year

Attendance

Since there are concerns about spreading the virus, viewers will notice changes in this year’s tournaments. Social distancing, masks, and testing requirements will be in place at each arena with attendance up to 25 percent capacity for the men’s tournament and 17 percent for the women’s tournament. 

Location

For the first time in history, each tournament will take place in a single state. There will be a men’s bubble in Indiana and a women’s bubble in Texas. Most of the men’s tournament will take place in six different venues across Indianapolis and surrounding areas. The men’s tournament will take place at Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Lucas Oil Stadium. 

The women’s tournament will take place mostly in San Antonio with a few games played in Austin and San Marcos. The five venues that will house the women’s tournament include the Alamodome, Bill Greehey Arena, Frank Erwin Center, University Events Center, and the UTSA Convocation Center.

Backup Plan

The  NCAA has a backup plan to ensure that things can go without error during this year’s 68-team tournament. Once the tournament has started, teams with a COVID-19 issue that can no longer compete will no longer participate and their opponent will advance to the next round via the no-contest rule. 

The tournament’s goal is to have at least one team from every conference represented and teams will not be reseeded after the bracket is released. If teams that are automatic qualifiers (AQ) and cannot play due to health and safety protocols, replacement teams must be announced via each conference’s replacement policy before the beginning of the tournament. If the AQ is from a single-bid conference, the replacement team will replace its conference member in the same place on the bracket. If the AQ is from a multi-bid conference, the replacement team will be chosen from one of the last four at-large teams.

March Madness 2021 Event Schedule

From the Selection Shows to the National Championship, March Madness is going to be insanely packed with a full schedule of NCAA action. Due to the uncertainty surrounded by COVID protocols, below are the men’s and women’s tournaments tentative schedules.

Men’s Tournament Schedule

RoundTime and DateChannelLocation
Selection SundayStarts at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 14CBSN/A
First FourStarts at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 18truTV, & TBSMackey Arena, and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
First round (Round of 64)Starts at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20 TBS, CBS, TNT, & truTVMackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Lucas Oil Stadium
Second round (Round of 32)Starts at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22TBS, CBS, TNT, & truTVBankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Lucas Oil Stadium
Sweet 16Starts at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 27, and 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 28CBS (afternoon games), TBS (primetime games)Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Hinkle Fieldhouse
Elite EightStarts at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, March 29, and 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 30
CBS (Monday) and TBS (Tuesday) Lucas Oil Stadium
Final FourStarts at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 3CBSLucas Oil Stadium
National Championship GameStarts at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, April 5CBSLucas Oil Stadium

Women’s Tournament Schedule

RoundDate and TimeChannelLocation
Selection ShowStarts at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, March 15ESPN, & ESPNUN/A
First Round (Round of 64)Starts at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22ABC (Sunday only), ESPN, ESPN2, & ESPNUAlamodome, Bill Greehey Arena, Frank Erwin Center, University Events Center, UTSA Convocation Center
Second Round (Round of 32)Starts at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 23, and 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 24ESPN (Tuesday only), ESPN2, & ESPNUAlamodome, Bill Greehey Arena, and UTSA Convocation Center
Sweet 16Starts at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 27, and Sunday, March 28ABC, ESPN, & ESPN2 (Saturday only),Alamodome
Elite EightStarts at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30ESPNAlamodome
Women’s Final FourStarts at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, April 2ESPNAlamodome
Women’s National Championship GameStarts at 6 p.m ET on Sunday, April 4ESPNAlamodome

How to Watch Every March Madness game

Participating teams and bracket seeding will be announced on both tournament’s Selection Show. Cord cutters can find out how to watch each Selection Show and all of the games in this year’s tournaments.

March Madness Live: By using your subscription TV login credentials you can gain unlimited access to every live game from their phone, tablet, PC, or any device with March Madness Live.

Locast: Viewers in one of the 29 markets served by Locast will also be able to watch on their local CBS and ABC stations for free with the service.

Cord cutters can watch every single moment of each game of March Madness with Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, or any compatible devices by subscribing to any one of these live TV streaming services.

  • fuboTV has CBS, ABC, ESPN,  and ESPN2 covered with the fuboTV Family plan for $65/month.
    • ESPNU is available on fubo Extra for an additional $7.99/mo.
  • Hulu with Live also carries CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU for $65/month.
  • AT&T TV includes CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU in its Choice package for $65/month.
  • Sling TV includes TBS, TNT, truTV, ESPN, and ESPN2  for only $50/mo with Sling Blue + Orange.
    • Add ESPNU for only $11/mo with Sports Extra.
  • YouTube TV includes CBS TBS, TNT, truTV, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU with a $65/month subscription.
  • Vidgo offers ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU for only $55/mo.
  • Paramount+ is the home of all of CBS networks content for only $6/month

Live TV Streaming Service Coverage

Men’s Tournament

Starting Monthly PriceCBSTBSTNTtruTV
Hulu w/ Live$64.99XXXX
fubo TV (Starter)$64.99X
Sling TV (Blue + Orange)$50XXX
YouTube TV$64.99XXXX

Women’s Tournament

Starting Monthly PriceABCESPNESPN2ESPNU
Hulu w/ Live$64.99XXXX
fubo TV (Starter)$64.99XXXX*
Sling TV (Blue + Orange)$50XXX*
YouTube TV$64.99XXXX
Vidgo$55XXXX

*Requires add-on package.