March Madness 2021: Game times, bracket, how to watch NCAA tournament today – CNET

March Madness is back with a vengeance. After the pandemic caused last year’s NCAA tournament to be canceled, the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament returned Friday with the wildly unpredictable action basketball fans sorely missed — even if it ruined their brackets. Huge upsets by Oral Roberts, Oregon State and North Texas provided the kind of excitement for which the tournament is known. The shockers kept coming Saturday as Maryland, Ohio and UCLA all pulled off upsets. While Abilene Christian pulled off the biggest surprise on the court with its takedown of Texas, Saturday also was the first major reminder that COVID-19 still looms large with the cancellation of VCU/Oregon due to multiple VCU positive tests. 

Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 men’s tournament as we head into the second round on Sunday. 

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After shocking Ohio State on Friday, Max Abmas, No. 3, and the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles are back in action on Sunday. 


Michael Hickey/NCAA Photos/Getty Images

Who is playing in today’s games? 

Here’s the upcoming schedule for Saturday’s first round games. Check out the scores for in-progress and completed games at NCAA.com.

  • (1) Illinois vs. (8) Illinois Chicago at 12:10 p.m. ET (9:10 p.m.) on CBS
  • (1) Baylor vs. (9) Wisconsin at 2:40 p.m. ET (11:40 p.m. PT) on CBS
  • (3) West Virginia vs. (11) Syracuse at 5:15 p.m. ET (2:15 p.m. PT) on CBS
  • (3) Arkansas vs. (6) Texas Tech at 6:10 p.m. ET (3:10 p.m. PT) on TNT
  • (2) Houston vs. (10) Rutgers at 7:10 p.m. ET (4:10 p.m. PT) on TBS
  • (7) Florida vs. (15) Oral Roberts at 7:45 p.m. ET (4:45 p.m. PT) on truTV
  • (5) Villanova vs. (13) North Texas at 8:45 p.m. ET (5:45 p.m. PT) on TNT
  • (4) Oklahoma State vs. (12) Oregon State at 9:40 p.m. ET (6:40 p.m. PT) on TBS

When is the Final Four and the rest of the tournament? 

As with past years, you’ll need to have CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV to catch all the action. Here’s the remaining list of dates to keep in mind, as well as which networks will have coverage. 

  • 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 are the top seeds, where can I find the bracket? 

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The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been one of the best teams throughout the season and will be a No. 1 seed in this year’s March Madness tournament. 


William Mancebo/Getty Images

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.

Live TV 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.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see what live, local networks are available where you live.

Hulu With Live TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS. Click the “View all channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code. 

FuboTV costs $60 a month and includes CBS. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Outside the US? Consider using a VPN: CNET editors choose the best VPN

How does the pandemic affect the 2021 tournament? 

The NCAA took a number of precautions to protect players, coaches and fans and to reduce the potential for COVID-19 to disrupt play. Usually the tournament is spread all across the country in various venues, but this year, to reduce travel, all 67 men’s games all take place in Indiana, with the bulk of the action happening in Indianapolis. Teams are also required to quarantine upon arrival, and in-person attendance by fans is limited to 25% capacity to allow physical distancing.

COVID-19 also has impacted some games, with Oregon advancing past VCU due to the Rams’ having multiple positive tests

In which venues will the games take place? 

Per the NCAA, this year’s games will be played two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts) plus Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers), Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler’s stadium), Indiana Farmers Coliseum (home of the IUPUI Jaguars), Mackey Arena in West Lafayette (Purdue’s arena) and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington (home of the Indiana Hoosiers). 

The NCAA says that only one game will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium at a time, while teams will practice at the Indiana Convention Center. Dedicated hotel floors will house each team. 

On March 1, the NCAA tweeted out images of this year’s floor layout for Lucas Oil Stadium as well as some of the other venues.