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Since 1939, the men’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament, or March Madness, has been held annually at the end of college basketball’s regular season. The single-elimination tournament is one of the most watched sporting events in the United States and generates a ton of betting action across the country.
Below you will find all the stats and info you need to gear up for college basketball’s highly anticipated postseason competition.
March Madness will begin on Tuesday, March 15 at 4 p.m. ET, with the First Four—or play-in—stage of competition. The official first round, featuring 64 teams, will take place Thursday and Friday, March 17-18, before the round of 32 on Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20.
The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 occur the following weekend, March 24 through March 27. Caesars Superdome in New Orleans will host the Final Four, which includes the national semifinal championship game on the evening of Monday, April 4.
In order to qualify for March Madness, a Division I college basketball team must either win its conference tournament or receive an “at-large” bid from the NCAA tournament selection committee.
A total of 68 teams play in the tournament, with 32 of those teams earning an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament. The 36 remaining tournament bids are granted by the selection committee and are revealed on Selection Sunday.
The committee is also in charge of seeding and placing each team in one of four regions of the tournament bracket: the East, West, Midwest and South. Each region will be seeded 1-16.
The selection committee is currently comprised of eight athletic directors and two conference commissioners in Division I men’s and women’s athletics. Members serve a five-year term.
truTV and TBS will air the First Four, then split first- and second-round coverage with CBS, TBS, and TNT.
TBS and CBS will televise the Sweet 16 and Elite, while the Final Four and NCAA National Championship Game can be found exclusively on CBS.
March Madness will follow the standard rules of a regular-season college basketball game, with two 20-minute halves. The overtime period is five minutes long and may be repeated as many times as necessary to determine a winner.
The Elite Eight will decide the champion of each of the four regions in the NCAA tournament. The winner from the East, West, Midwest and South move on to the Final Four to play in the national semifinal games.
The Final Four includes both the semifinal round and the championship game on Monday, April 5.
Caesars Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints, will host the Final Four from April 2-4.
Tipoff of the national championship game is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET Eastern on Monday, April 4.
From 1964 to 1995, the UCLA Bruins accumulated 11 national championship titles, 10 of those under head coach John Wooden.
The University of Kentucky, a longtime elite program in college basketball, earned its first championship in 1948 and most recent in 2012. ACC schools North Carolina and Duke are neck-and-neck for titles, with six and five, respectively, and have each won one in the last five years.
The Indiana Hoosiers also rank high with five championships, but the school hasn't experienced the NCAA's ultimate glory since 1987, with head coach Bob Knight.
The University of Louisville hung championship banners in 1980 and 1986 with head coach Denny Crum, and again in 2013 with Rick Pitino. However, because of NCAA violations, the school had to vacate its 2013 championship and two Final Four appearances. Louisville is the only school in NCAA history to have a men's basketball championship vacated.
UCLA head coach John Wooden's record of 10 national championships may never be touched, but "Coach K" (Mike Krzyzewski) is hot on his track, with five. The Duke basketball coach's teams regularly rank in the AP Top 25 poll and are often considered one of the favorites in the NCAA tournament each year.
Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp led the school to the Promised Land four times (1948, 1949, 1951 and 1958) during his tenure. There is a three-way tie for fourth-most wins, as UConn's Jim Calhoun, Indiana's Bob Knight, and Roy Williams each own three titles. Williams collected his trio of banners with North Carolina in 2005, 2009 and 2017. He also guided the Kansas Jayhawks to a national title game, where they fell to Syracuse in 2003.
Based on current conference membership, the ACC owns the most NCAA titles. North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State, Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia have each claimed at least one national championship. The Cavaliers most recently won the tournament in 2019.
The Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12 triumphed in the first national championship game in 1939. Since then, the Pac-12 has earned 16 titles among Stanford, Utah, Cal, UCLA and Arizona. UCLA won seven in a row from 1967-1973, then again in 1975, the last season Wooden coached for the Bruins. Wooden also achieved back-to-back titles in 1964 and 1965.
Selection Sunday will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 6 p.m. ET, and will air on CBS.
The selection committee will offer 36 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in addition to 32 automatic bids for those teams that won their conference tournament.
The committee will look at record, strength of schedule and quality of wins and losses, among other factors, to rank the field of teams from 1 to 68. Theoretically, the top four teams will earn the No. 1 seeds, and the next four on the list will receive the No. 2 seeds, and so on.
The committee strives for balance in each of the East, West, Midwest and South regions. The overall No. 1 seed should play the weakest No. 2 seed, and that pattern should follow down the line from the No. 3 seeds to No. 16 seeds for each region.
In 2011, the NCAA expanded the men's tournament to 68 teams and added a "First Four" play-in stage that included eight teams. Those eight teams hold the four lowest-seeded automatic bids and four lowest-seeded at-large bids.
The four winners of the First Four games move on to the field of 64 to compete in the first round of the tournament.
From 1985 to 2001, the NCAA tournament followed a 64-team format, until the Mountain West Conference joined Division I. To accomodate an additional automatic bid, which bumped the field to 65, the NCAA created one play-in game before the opening round. Since the arrival of the First Four in 2011, the tournament has maintained the same 68-team format.
The University of Dayton Arena in Ohio is the annual host site of the First Four games.
There are six rounds of the NCAA tournament, not including the First Four play-in round.
Sixty-four teams participate in the first round. From there, the field is narrowed down to 32 for the second round of competition.
The third round is referred to as the Sweet 16, or regional semifinal, and the fourth round is best known as the Elite Eight or regional final.
The fifth round, or national semifinal, is part of the Final Four, as is the sixth round, the national championship game.
You can fill our our official TwinSpires Sports downloadable March Madness bracket by clicking here.
It's been estimated that around 70 million brackets are filled out each year across the country for company or family pools and nationwide contests.
The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are about 1 in 120.6 billion—if you know something about basketball. If you filled out your bracket by flipping a coin or blindly guessing, your odds are much higher.
No one has filled out a perfect bracket—that we know of—in the history of the NCAA tournament.
20 of the last 21 Final Four Champions Have Been East Coast Teams
The only team that could be considered following in this trend for this year’s Final Four is Virginia. With a state that does touch the East Coast, does the basketball world truly count Virginia as an East Coast team? Michigan State is from the Midwest, while Auburn is from the South and Texas Tech is a Southwest team, thus they would not come as close to fitting the mold. If the Cavaliers fit the narrative of East Coast, then the trend could very well continue to prove true.
Favorites Usually Dominate in Final Four Semifinals
If this trend holds, Michigan State will beat Texas Tech and Virginia will beat Auburn. I’ve got Texas Tech upsetting MSU and Auburn upsetting UVA. So, I’ve thrown out this trend!
Underdogs Have Performed Well in the Finals
UNC won as a favorite in 2017. Last year, Villanova won as the favorite. But, before those two chalked it up, Nova beat North Carolina as a dog in 2016, Duke upset Wisconsin as a slight dog in 2015, and Connecticut upset Kentucky as a major underdog in 2014.
Will any of the three trends listed above hold? Or, will Auburn and Texas Tech prove best? Get your popcorn ready and watch one of the greatest sports events in the U.S., the annual NCAA College Basketball Final Four!
1975 National Championship – UCLA 92, Kentucky 85
The great John Wooden won his final championship. It was the Wizard of Westwood’s 10th title.
1979 National Championship – Michigan State 75, Indiana State 64
Magic and Bird started one of the most important rivalries in NBA history while still in college.
1983 National Championship – NC State 54, Houston 52
NC State upset Phi Slamma Jamma with a last-second shot, handing Jimmy Valvano the NCAA Final Four trophy. Valvano would end up starting the Jimmy V. Foundation, one of the most important cancer research non-profit organizations in the world.
1985 National Championship – Villanova 66, Georgetown 64
Villanova beats Georgetown in one of the biggest upsets in Final Four history.
1991 National Championship – Duke 72, Kansas 65
Coach Mike Krzyzewski wins his first of five national championships by beating Roy Williams- coached Kansas. The Blue Devils upset heavily favored UNLV in the semifinals. Today, Williams coaches North Carolina, which means Coach K and Williams have continued the rivalry that started in 1991.
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