Following last year's cancellation due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NCAA is planning on bringing back March Madness in 2021, although it will look different. In early January, the NCAA announced that the entire 2021 Division I men's basketball will be played in the state of Indiana. The majority of the NCAA Tournament will be played at different venues in Indianapolis with Lucas Oil Stadium serving as the primary site. The timing for some of the games has shifted slightly due to the unique format, which has resulted in some changes to the bracket.
The top four seeds will be handled the same and so will the First Four. But the rest of the teams in the bracket will be placed based on rankings without the usual considerations for geography, according to the NCAA. This is called using the "S-curve" to fill the bracket. There will be 37 at-large selections (one more than normal) and 31 automatic qualifiers (one fewer than normal).
As for the tournament itself, Selection Sunday will take place on March 14 when the field of 68 teams will be announced. The games will then begin with the "First Four" on March 18 with games taking place in Mackey Arena in West Lafayette (Purdue's home court) and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (Indiana's) in Bloomington.
The action kicks up a notch with the first and second rounds from March 19-22. The field will get narrowed down more the following week with the four regionals (where the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight take place) scheduled for March 27-30. The Final Four will be held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 3 with the national champion to be determined on April 5.
Here's a complete rundown of the 2021 NCAA Tournament:
(Note: Venue is in Indianapolis unless otherwise noted. Dates and locations subject to change.)
Sunday, March 14 – Selection Sunday
Thursday, March 18 – First Four (Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.; Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind.)
Friday, March 19 & Saturday, March 20 – First Round (Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Lucas Oil Stadium)
Sunday, March 21 & Monday, March 22 – Second Round (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Lucas Oil Stadium)
Saturday, March 27 & Sunday, March 28 – Sweet 16 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse)
Monday, March 29 & Tuesday, March 30 – Elite Eight (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Saturday, April 3 –Final Four (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Monday, April 5 – National Championship (Lucas Oil Stadium)
And for those who like to plan ahead, here are future dates and locations for the Final Four:
April 2 & 4, 2022 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)
April 1 & 3, 2023 – NRG Stadium (Houston)
April 6 & 8, 2024 – State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
April 5 & 7, 2025 – Alamodome (San Antonio)
April 4 & 6, 2026 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)