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March Madness is one of the biggest, most exciting and most fun events in all of sports. Here’s everything you need to know about the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, which has been played annually since 1939.

What is March Madness?

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The penultimate round is known as the Final Four, when (you guessed it) only four teams are left.

What (and when) is Selection Sunday?

Selection Sunday is the day when the Selection Committee reveals the full NCAA tournament bracket, including all teams and all seeds. In 2020, Selection Sunday is on March 15.

When is 2020’s March Madness?

Here is the full schedule for 2020’s NCAA tournament. It will stream on March Madness Live.

 

2020 NCAA tournament schedule and locations:

DATES ROUND CITY, STATE HOST(S) FACILITY
March 15 Selection Sunday N/A TBS will broadcast Selection Show at 6 p.m. ET TBS
March 17-18 First Four Dayton, OH University of Dayton UD Arena
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds Albany, NY Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Times Union Center
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds Spokane, WA University of Idaho Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds St. Louis, MO Missouri Valley Conference Enterprise Center
March 19/21 1st/2nd Rounds Tampa, FL University of South Florida Amalie Arena
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Greensboro, NC Atlantic Coast Conference Greensboro Coliseum
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Omaha, NE Creighton University CenturyLink Center Omaha
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Sacramento, CA Sacramento State University Golden 1 Center
March 20/22 1st/2nd Rounds Cleveland, OH Mid-American Conference/Cleveland State Quicken Loans Arena
March 26/28 Midwest Regional Indianapolis, IN Horizon League/IUPUI Lucas Oil Stadium
March 26/28 West Regional Los Angeles, CA Pepperdine University STAPLES Center
March 27/29 South Regional Houston, TX University of Houston Toyota Center
March 27/29 East Regional New York, NY St. John’s University/Big East Conference Madison Square Garden
April 4/6 Final Four Atlanta, GA Georgia Institute of Technology Mercedes-Benz Stadium

When did March Madness start?

The first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament was in 1939, and it has been held every year since.

How has the tournament changed since 1939?

The inaugural tournament had just eight teams, and saw Oregon beat Ohio State 46-33 for the title.

Where did the term “March Madness” come from?

March Madness was first used to refer to basketball by an Illinois high school official, Henry V. Porter, in 1939, but the term didn’t find its way to the NCAA tournament until CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger (who used to be a sportswriter in Chicago) used it during coverage of the 1982 tournament. The term has been synonymous with the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament ever since.

How are the teams selected?

There are two ways that a team can earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. The 32 Division I conferences all receive an automatic bid, which they each award to the team that wins the postseason conference tournament. Regardless of how a team performed during the regular season, if they are eligible for postseason play and win their conference tournament, they receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. These teams are known as automatic qualifiers.

The second avenue for an invitation is an at-large bid. The selection committee (more on them in a second) convenes on Selection Sunday, after all regular season and conference tournament games are played, and decides which 36 teams that are not automatic qualifiers have the pedigree to earn an invitation to the tournament.

What is the March Madness selection committee?

The 10-member NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee is responsible for selecting, seeding and bracketing the field for the NCAA Tournament. School and conference administrators are nominated by their conference, serve five-year terms and represent a cross-section of the Division I membership.

How do they decide which teams get an at-large bid?

There are a multitude of stats and rankings that the Selection Committee takes into account, but there is no set formula that determines whether a team receives an at-large bid or not.

What happens once the teams are selected?

Once the field of 68 is finalized, each team is assigned a seed and placed in one of four regions, which determines their first round matchups and their path to the championship.

What are seeds?

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is made up of 68 teams. On Selection Sunday, before any tournament game is played, those teams are ranked 1 through 68 by the Selection Committee, with the best team in college basketball — based on regular season and conference tournament performance — sitting at No. 1. Four of those teams are eliminated in the opening round of the tournament (known as the First Four), leaving us with a field of 64 for the first round.

Those 64 teams are split into four regions of 16 teams each, with each team being ranked 1 through 16. That ranking is the team’s seed. 

In order to reward better teams, first-round matchups are determined by pitting the top team in the region against the bottom team (No. 1 vs. No. 16). Then the next highest vs. the next lowest (No. 2 vs. No. 15), and so on. In theory, this means that the 1 seeds have the easiest opening matchup in the bracket.

How to watch March Madness:

Every single March Madness game will be broadcast on either TBS, TNT, TruTV or CBS. You can also stream every game on March Madness Live. We’ll post the full schedule here when it is available. 

How can you participate in March Madness?

By filling out a bracket! Our Bracket Challenge Game, the official bracket game of the NCAA, will open immediately after the committee announces the field on Selection Sunday (March 15). The brackets will lock on that Thursday, before the first game of the first round begins, so get your picks in before then. How hard is filling out a bracket? Well no one has ever gotten a perfect bracket, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

 

 

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