March Madness officially begins this evening when the 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket is finally unveiled, ending weeks of speculation on which 68 teams will make the field and how they will be seeded.
This reveal has become something of a holiday in the sports world and is known as Selection Sunday, marking the first exciting moment in a three-week long tourney that will be chock-full of thrilling college basketball action. Given the NCAA Tournament was cancelled last year due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, fans are especially antsy for the event’s long-awaited return.
While the Big Dance won’t start play until Thursday with all four First Four contests taking place in rapid succession—a slight tweak from previous NCAA Tournaments that spread the play-in contests over two days—the hype can begin in earnest this evening as fans scramble to analyze the selection committee’s decisions, make their picks and fill out brackets for various pools.
Keep reading to get ready for the March Madness bracket reveal and find out everything you need to know for the Selection Sunday show:
Selection Sunday 2021 Start Time And How To Watch
The NCAA Tournament bracket release will occur in real time on the 2021 March Madness Selection Show, which will be televised by CBS and live streamed on multiple platforms via the March Madness Live website and app. The telecast begins at 6 p.m. ET and will run for approximately one hour.
Selection Sunday Show Crew
Greg Gumbel will host the March Madness Selection Show and will be joined by college basketball analysts Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis for bracket commentary as it is being unveiled. There will also be live look-ins at the reactions from each program after their selection and seeding is revealed.
2021 NCAA Tournament Printable Bracket
Fans looking to print a blank bracket can do so now by clicking here. This link will be updated to include the official March Madness bracket after the Selection Sunday show reveals all 68 teams and where they are seeded later this evening.
Selection Sunday Automatic Bids
There will be 31 automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament this year, with the winner of each Division I conference tournament receiving one. There are usually 32 auto bids, but the Ivy League suspended play for the 2020-21 college basketball season, opening an additional at-large spot in the field.
Here are the teams that are guaranteed to be partaking in March Madness later this week, with the AAC, A-10, Big Ten and SEC tourneys still to be decided:
America East: Hartford (15-8)
ACC: Georgia Tech (17-8)
Atlantic Sun: Liberty (23-5)
Big East: Georgetown (12-12)
Big Sky: Eastern Washington (16-7)
Big South: Winthrop (23-1)
Big 12: Texas (19-7)
Big West: UC Santa Barbara (22-4)
Colonial: Drexel (12-7)
Conference USA: North Texas (17-9)
Horizon League: Cleveland State (19-7)
MAAC: Iona (12-5)
Mid-American: Ohio (16-7)
MEAC: Norfolk State (16-7)
Missouri Valley: Loyola-Chicago (24-4)
Mountain West: San Diego State (22-4)
Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s (12-10)
Ohio Valley: Morehead State (23-7)
Pac-12: Oregon State (17-12)
Patriot: Colgate (14-1)
Southern: UNC-Greensboro (21-8)
Southland: Abilene Christian (23-4)
Summit: Oral Roberts (16-10)
Sun Belt: Appalachian State (17-11)
SWAC: Texas Southern (16-8)
WAC: Grand Canyon (17-6)
West Coast: Gonzaga (26-0)
March Madness Bracketology Predictions
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi is widely regarded as one of the top bracketology experts. Lunardi recently released his latest bracket prediction prior to the official bracket reveal on Selection Sunday. Below you can find what Lunardi believes the 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket will look like later tonight:
March Madness Odds And Prop Bets
Bookmakers have released a slew of odds surrounding the 2021 NCAA Tournament, including lines on the Selection Sunday show, Lunardi’s bracket predictions and even which seed president Joe Biden will have cutting down the nets at the conclusion of the Final Four.
You can find a full list of these intriguing prop bets below courtesy of SportsBetting.ag:
Will a team forfeit an NCAA Tournament game due to COVID?
Will Charles Barkley mispronounce a school name during Selection Show?
Will Charles Barkley say Auburn during Selection Show?
Will Charles Barkley pick an SEC team to win a region during Selection Show?
Joe Lunardi correctly predicts all 68 teams
Joe Lunardi correctly predicts all No. 1 seeds
Joe Lunardi correctly predicts all No. 2 seeds
Which seed will Joe Biden pick to win?
- No. 1 seed -200
- No. 2 seeds +175
- Any other seed +350
Selection Sunday Bracket Process
A 10-person selection committee has been formed to pick the 37 at-large schools to invite to the NCAA Tournament and seed all 68 teams in the March Madness field. This committee is comprised of conference commissioners and athletic directors for various Division I programs—who cannot give input when their own conference or team is up for discussion—and is chaired by Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart, who will make an appearance on the Selection Sunday show this evening.
The committee will be using an “S-curve” process to build the NCAA Tournament bracket this year, which basically means they will be ranking every team in the field on an overall seed list and then formulate the brackets by snaking through each set of groupings (four No. 1 seeds, four No. 2 seeds, etc.).
Joe Lunardi tweeted his latest seed list rankings on early Sunday afternoon:
The end result will be the top overall No. 1 seed will be paired in a region with the weakest No. 2 seed and face the weakest No. 16 seed in the first round. This continues with the second-strongest No. 1—the No. 2 overall seed—being put in another region with the second-strongest No. 2 seed and facing the second-weakest No. 16 seed to open the Big Dance.
This is different than previous years when the committee had to account for geography and prioritized to placing the top schools in regions close to their respective campuses, which wouldn’t always lead to a bracket as balanced as the new S-curve process will allow. This is possible in 2021 due to coronavirus precautions, which will see the entire NCAA Tournament take place in the greater Indianapolis area instead of regional sites throughout the country.
NCAA Tournament 2021 Key Dates And Viewing Guide
The March Madness on-court action begins Thursday with the First Four play-in contests that will determine the last four teams to make the field . The deadline for most pools to submit their brackets will be the following day, right before the first round gets going with the first game of the proper 2021 NCAA Tournament starting at noon ET.
All 63 games will be aired on CBS, TBS, TNT or truTV, with the matchups condensing to the former two starting in the Sweet 16 and moving exclusively to CBS at the start of the Final Four. Every single contest will be live streamed via March Madness Live, a website and app that is available across a multitude of platforms.
Here’s a look at the date each round begins and the start time for the first tip on each March Madness game day.
- First Four — Thursday, March 18 (4 p.m.)
- First round — Friday, March 19 (12 p.m.) and Saturday, March 20 (12 p.m.)
- Second round — Sunday, March 21 (12 p.m.) and Monday, March 22 (12 p.m.)
- Sweet 16 — Saturday, March 27 (2 p.m.) and Sunday, March 28 (1 p.m.)
- Elite Eight — Monday, March 29 (7 p.m.) and Tuesday, March 30 (6 p.m.)
- Final Four — Saturday, April 3 (5 p.m.)
- NCAA championship game — Monday, April 5 (9 p.m.)
Stay tuned throughout the week for more March Madness previews, predictions and bracket picks to help you win your pool and come out ahead at the end of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.