2022 March Madness: Complete schedule, dates, TV times
NCAA Scores 2021: March Madness Bracket, Schedule After First Four Results
No. 16 Texas Southern 60, No. 16 Mount St. Mary's 52
John Walker III posted 19 points and nine rebounds as the Texas Southern Tigers overcame a 30-20 halftime deficit to win 60-52 on Thursday.
Walker scored the first six points of an 11-0 run to start the second half. The Mountaineers responded with an 8-0 run, but Walker punctuated the Tigers' own 8-0 run in response to give his team the lead back.
Justin Hopkins gave Texas Southern the lead for good at 41-40, and the Tigers hit enough free throws down the stretch to keep Mount St. Mary's at arm's length.
Damian Chong Qui led Mount St. Mary's with 14 points. Mezie Offurum added 10 points and a game-high 16 boards.
The Tigers will now play No. 1 Michigan in the round of 64.
No. 11 Drake 53, No. 11 Wichita State 52
Drake overcame a 12-point first-half deficit and held on down the stretch to sneak by the Wichita State Shockers, 53-52.
A heart-stopping finish worthy of March Madness capped this one. Drake took a 53-49 lead with 22 seconds left after a pair of Joseph Yesufu free throws. The two teams then traded a pair of turnovers before Wichita State's Dexter Dennis nailed a three to cut the Drake lead to one following an Alterique Gilbert steal.
Gilbert fouled Yesufu for a one-and-one, and Yesufu missed the front end, giving Wichita State one last chance. Gilbert had a look for the win fromthree-point range, but his shot was off the mark.
Yesufu's 21 points led Drake. Darnell Brodie had a near double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Morris Udeze's 22 points for Wichita State led all scorers. Dennis added 13 points, and Gilbert had 10.
Drake will move onto the first round of the NCAA tournament against No. 6 USC.
No. 16 Norfolk St. 54, No. 16 Appalachian St. 53
Devante Carter sank two free throws with 10 seconds left to help Norfolk State hold off Appalachian State 54-53.
Norfolk State led by as many as 19 points and held a 36-20 halftime edge, but the Mountaineers stormed back in the second half and even took a 51-45 lead.
However, the Spartans outscored Appalachian State 9-2 in the last 5:23. The Mountaineers missed all 10 of their field goals during that span, including two on their final possession.
Jalen Hawkins' 24 points off the bench propelled the Spartans to the win. He made 8-of-13 shots (4-of-5 three-pointers). Justin Forrest led Appalachian State with 18 points.
Norfolk State will now face No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga.
No. 11 UCLA 86, No. 11 Michigan St. 80 (OT)
Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 27 points and Johnny Juzang added 21 as UCLA overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat Michigan State 87-80 in overtime.
The Spartans led the Bruins by as many as 14 points in the first half and took a 44-33 lead into halftime, but UCLA chipped away at the lead and took it when Jules Bernard made a layup with 5:48 remaining in the second half.
The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of regulation. Michigan State did take a late 73-67 lead, but a pair of three-point plays (one from Bernard and another via Jaquez) helped UCLA tie the game at 77.
Jaquez's three-point play proved to be the final points of regulation with 29 seconds remaining. Juzang did have a good look from half-court as time expired, but the ball hit off the back of the rim.
UCLA's defense took over in the second half. The Spartans' only OT field goal happened with just 47 seconds remaining in the extra session. Joshua Langford got that bucket and added a free throw for all three of the Spartans' OT points.
Cody Riley scored five of the Bruins' OT points, including a jumper with 3:20 left that ended up producing the game-winning point.
For Michigan State, Aaron Henry led the way with 18 points, and Langford added 12.
UCLA will now take on No. 6 BYU.
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March Madness live bracket: Full schedule, scores, how to watch 2021 NCAA Tournament games
March Madness is back. Say it again, now: March Madness is back.
It's different from previous iterations, surely. It won't not be as grandiose either, with fan attendance limited because of COVID-19. But for the first time in two years, the NCAA will get back to the business of crowning a national champion in the single greatest postseason in American sports.
And that year off is going to make all the difference when the ball tips off in Indiana; as the saying goes, you don't realize how much you'll miss something till it's gone.
MORE: Watch select NCAA Tournament games with fuboTV (7-day free trial)
Storylines and enticing matchups abound in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, which will take place entirely — appropriately, even — in the state of Indiana. There's a lot to unpack, but Sporting News is here to make sure you know everything there is to know about March Madness . That includes full schedule, TV and streaming info, dates, site information and more:
March Madness live bracket
For live updates of the tournament bracket and information on how to watch March Madness, check out the links below.
Live March Madness bracket | Full TV schedule
Printable 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket
You can get an updated, printable NCAA Tournament bracket here to fill out. SN will update the bracket throughout March Madness.
2021 NCAA Tournament schedule, scores
Thursday, March 18
|No. 16 Texas Southern 60 , No. 16 Mount St Mary's 52|
|No. 11 Drake 53 , No. 11 Wichita State 52|
|No. 16 Norfolk State 54 , No. 16 Appalachian State 53|
|No. 11 UCLA 86 , No. 11 Michigan State 80 (OT)|
Friday, March 19
|No. 7 Florida 75, No. 10 Virginia Tech 70 (OT)|
|No. 3 Arkansas 85, No. 14 Colgate 68|
|No. 1 Illinois 78, No. 16 Drexel 49|
|No. 6 Texas Tech 65, No. 11 Utah State 53|
|No. 15 Oral Roberts 75, No. 2 Ohio State 72 (OT)|
|No. 1 Baylor 79, No. 16 Hartford 55|
|No. 8 Loyola Chicago 71, No. 9 Georgia Tech 60|
|No. 12 Oregon State 70, No. 5 Tennessee 56|
|No. 4 Oklahoma State 69, No. 13 Liberty 60|
|No. 9 Wisconsin 85, No. 8 North Carolina 62|
|No. 2 Houston 87, No. 15 Cleveland State 56|
|No. 13 North Texas 78, No. 4 Purdue 69 (OT)|
|No. 10 Rutgers 60, No. 7 Clemson 56|
|No. 11 Syracuse 78, No. 6 San Diego State 62|
|No. 3 West Virginia 84, No. 14 Morehead State 67|
|No. 5 Villanova 73, No. 12 Winthrop 63|
Saturday, March 20
|No. 5 Colorado 96, No. 12 Georgetown 73|
|No. 4 Florida State 64, No. 13 UNC Greensboro 54|
|No. 3 Kansas 93, No. 14 Eastern Washington 84|
|No. 8 LSU 76, No. 9 St. Bonaventure 61|
|No. 1 Michigan 82, No. 16 Texas Southern 66|
|No. 5 Creighton 63, No. 12 UC Santa Barbara 62|
|No. 2 Alabama 68, No. 15 Iona 55|
|No. 6 USC 72, No. 11 Drake 56|
|No. 2 Iowa 86, No. 15 Grand Canyon 74|
|No. 10 Maryland 63, No. 7 UConn 54|
|No. 13 Ohio 62, No. 4 Virginia 58|
|No. 8 Oklahoma 72, No. 9 Missouri 68|
|No. 1 Gonzaga 98, No. 16 Norfolk State 55|
|No. 11 UCLA 73, No. 6 BYU 62|
|No. 14 Abilene Christian 53, No. 3 Texas 52|
|No. 7 Oregon, No. 10 VCU (no contest)|
Sunday, March 21
|Game 37: No. 8 Loyola Chicago 71, No. 1 Illinois 58|
|Game 38: No. 1 Baylor 76, No. 9 Wisconsin 63|
|Game 39: No. 11 Syracuse 75, No. 3 West Virginia 72|
|Game 40: No. 3 Arkansas 68, No. 6 Texas Tech 66|
|Game 41: No. 2 Houston 63, No. 10 Rutgers 60|
|Game 42: No. 15 Oral Roberts 81, No. 7 Florida 78|
|Game 43:No. 5 Villanova 84, No. 13 North Texas 61|
|Game 44:No. 12 Oregon State 80, No. 4 Oklahoma State 70|
Monday, March 22
|No. 7 Oregon 95 , No. 2 Iowa 80|
|No. 1 Gonzaga 87, No. 8 Oklahoma 71|
|No. 11 UCLA 67, No. 14 Abilene Christian 47|
|No. 5 Creighton 72, No. 13 Ohio 58|
|No. 1 Michigan 86, No. 8 LSU 78|
|No. 4 Florida State 71, No. 5 Colorado 53|
|No. 2 Alabama 96, No. 10 Maryland 77|
|No. 6 USC 85, No. 3 Kansas 51|
Saturday, March 27
|Game 53: No. 12 Oregon State 65, No. 8 Loyola Chicago 58|
|Game 54: No. 1 Baylor 62, No. 5 Villanova 51|
|Game 55: No. 3 Arkansas 72, No. 15 Oral Roberts|
|Game 56: No. 2 Houston 62, No. 11 Syracuse 46|
Sunday, March 28
|Game 57: No. 1 Gonzaga 83, No. 5 Creighton 65|
|Game 58: No. 1 Michigan 76, No. 4 Florida State 58|
|Game 59: No. 11 UCLA 88, No. 2 Alabama 78 (OT)|
|Game 60: No. 6 USC 82, No. 7 Oregon 68|
Monday, March 29
|Game 61: No. 2 Houston 67, No. 12 Oregon State 61|
|Game 62: No. 1 Baylor 81, No. 3 Arkansas 72|
Tuesday, March 30
|Game 63: No. 1 Gonzaga 85, No. 6 USC 66|
|Game 64: No. 11 UCLA 51, No. 1 Michigan 49|
Saturday, April 3
|Game 65: No. 1 Baylor 78, No. 2 Houston 59|
|Game 66: No. 1 Gonzaga 93, No. 11 UCLA 90 (OT)|
NCAA Tournament national championship
Monday, April 5
|Game 67: No. 1 Baylor 86, No. 1 Gonzaga 70|
How to watch, stream March Madness games
The NCAA Tournament will broadcast across several stations: CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. The primary outlet for live-streaming 2021 NCAA Tournament games is March Madness Live . You can also stream games live by signing up for fuboTV , which offers a free seven-day trial.
Below is a round-by-round breakdown of what stations will broadcast games:
|Round||TV channel||Live stream|
|First Four||TBS, truTV||NCAA March Madness Live|
|Round 1||CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV||NCAA March Madness Live,fuboTV|
|Round 2||CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV||NCAA March Madness Live,fuboTV|
|Sweet 16||CBS, TBS||NCAA March Madness Live,fuboTV|
|Elite Eight||CBS, TBS||NCAA March Madness Live,fuboTV|
|Final Four||CBS||NCAA March Madness Live,fuboTV|
|National championship||CBS||NCAA March Madness Live,fuboTV|
NCAA Tournament sites 2021
Below is a full rundown on the sites and locations of the NCAA Tournament, which will take place entirely in Indiana:
*Indicates venue will host only first-round games
|First Four||March 18||West Lafayette, Ind.||Mackey Arena|
|Bloomington, Ind.||Assembly Hall|
|Rounds 1-2||March 19-22||West Lafayette, Ind.||Mackey Arena*|
|Bloomington, Ind.||Assembly Hall*|
|Indianapolis||Bankers Life Fieldhouse|
|—||Indiana Farmers Coliseum|
|—||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Sweet 16||March 27-28||Indianapolis||Bankers Life Fieldhouse|
|Elite Eight||March 29-30||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|Final Four||April 3||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|National championship||April 5||Indianapolis||Lucas Oil Stadium|
March Madness features from Sporting News
Coach K's last season: Mike Krzyzewski reflects before he leads Duke one final time
DeCourcy: One-on-one with focused, and emotional, Coach K
Indiana's Mike Woodson is pushing the Hoosiers to reconnect with greatness: 'I've got to be who I am'
DeCourcy: Woodson pushing IU to reconnect with greatness
Gonzaga men's basketball coach Mark Few suspended for season opener after DUI arrest
Gonzaga suspends Few for season opener
Big Ten big men Kofi Cockburn and Hunter Dickinson are back to show there's still a place in the game for size
DeCourcy: Big Ten loaded with returning big men
Duke lands top big-man prospect Dereck Lively, proves there still is life in recruiting rivalry with Kentucky
DeCourcy: Duke makes big statement in recruiting rivalry with Kentucky
For the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse invitational, see The First 4.
In the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, the First Four are a series of play-in games played since 2011. The games are contested between teams holding the four lowest seeded automatic bids and the four lowest seeded at-large bids.
Prior to expanding from 65 to 68 teams, the two lowest seeded teams played in an Opening Round game from 2001 to 2010. All of the previous-format single Opening Round games and current-format First Four games, with the exception of 2021, have been played at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. In a first for the First Four, the 2021 edition was played in two venues outside of Ohio due to logistical challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic: Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana, hosted by Purdue University, and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana, hosted by Indiana University Bloomington.
Opening Round (2001–2010)
The game was conceived after the Mountain West Conference, which had been formed in 1999 following the split of the Western Athletic Conference, was given an automatic bid for its conference champion, which made it the 31st conference to receive an automatic berth into the men's tournament. Unlike the women's tournament, which accommodated this change by eliminating an at-large bid to keep their field at 64 teams, the organizers of the men's tournament elected to keep their at-large entries at 34. In order to eliminate one of the teams to have a 64-team bracket, it became necessary for another game to be played between the two lowest-ranked teams among the automatic bid leagues.
Florida A&M (2004 and 2007) and Winthrop (2001 and 2010) were the only teams to appear in the game more than once. The 2003 game was the only one to end in overtime.
First Four (2011-present)
On April 22, 2010, the NCAA announced that the tournament would expand to 68 teams, with four "Play-In Games" beginning with the 2011 tournament.
In 2011, the broadcast media began calling these games "The First Four" (as opposed to the "Final Four"); and, also used the term "first round games" interchangeably with "opening round games." Formerly, the term "first round game" specifically referred to the first games played by the final 64 teams, not the teams in the opening round. Through the 2015 tournament, these games were known as "second round games," resulting in some confusion for those more accustomed to the round being known as the "first round" and the "second round" being used for the regional quarterfinals (field of 32). Effective with the 2016 tournament, the NCAA reverted to the traditional usage of "First Round" as referring to the first games played by the final 64 teams, and began officially using "First Four" to refer to the opening round games.
On January 15, 2021, the NCAA announced that the 2021 tournament will follow modified principles. For this year the First Four games have the overall 65th and 66th seeds, the 67th and 68th seeds, and the last four at-large seeds playing each other.
Although analysts' initial reactions to the concept were skeptical, the first game, played on March 13, 2001, was a success, and few complaints were lodged. The games are prominent by attracting viewers on nights in which no other NCAA games are played. Prior to the proposal of expansion, Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim had advocated for an expansion of the tournament from 64 to 76 teams, which would include four opening round games for all of the 16th and also added opening round games for the 14th and 15th seeded teams. The expansion of play in games faced logistical challenges and lukewarm acceptance from then-NCAA President Myles Brand and the corporate and media partners of the NCAA. However, on April 22, 2010, the NCAA announced, as part of a new 14-year, US$10.8 billion agreement between CBS Sports and Time Warner's Turner Sports division, that the tournament will include three more play-in games, which would come to be known as the "First Four."
The opening round games have also been criticized as a handicap for teams among the historically black colleges and universities. In every game from 2002 to 2010, one team was an HBCU, and at least one HBCU (two in 2018, 2019 and 2021) has participated in every First Four. However, the two conferences which are made up of HBCUs, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference, are often two of the lowest-rated conferences in the RPI, and its successor since 2018–19, the NET. Since each win in an opening round game is treated the same as a win in any other game for purposes of sharing in NCAA tournament revenue, athletic directors and commissioners of HBCU-heavy conferences often welcome the exposure and money gained.
The first Opening Round Game in 2001 was broadcast by cable network TNN—a sibling to tournament broadcaster CBS—with Tim Brando and Rick Pitino as commentators.
ESPN, which had not shown NCAA Tournament games since the early rounds of the 1989 tournament, then signed a deal to show the Opening Round Game beginning in 2002. ESPN would continue to cover this game through 2010, as the only one of 64 NCAA Tournament games not to be shown on a CBS network.
With the transition to the new CBS/Turner contract and the new First Four format in 2011, the round has historically allocated exclusively to TruTV. In 2021, TBS joined in with TruTV because of the First Four being played in a single day (Thursday) as opposed to two days on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The winner of the game was awarded the No. 16 seeded position in one of four regions of the tournament and next played the No. 1 seeded team of that region on the following Friday. Three of the top seeds to beat the opening game winner advanced to the national championship game and all three won the national championship (2002 Maryland, 2005 North Carolina and 2010 Duke). North Carolina was the only No. 1 seeded team matched against the opening round winner more than once (2005 & 2008).
Note that, despite the term "Play-In" game being used colloquially, the loser of the opening round game was still considered to have been in the tournament, as both teams met the qualifications for "automatic tournament entry" as stated in the NCAA Bylaws. At first, only the loser received credit for being in the game for purposes of its conference receiving a share of the NCAA Division I "basketball fund"; however, starting with the 2008 tournament, both teams received credit for playing. There was an actual "play-in" round in 1991, with six teams playing each other (Saint Francis, Pennsylvania versus Fordham; Coastal Carolina versus Jackson State; NE Louisiana versus Florida A&M) before the tournament bracket was announced; these games are not considered part of the 1991 tournament. Consequently, in 2001, Northwestern State technically became the first No. 16 seeded team to win a game in the men's NCAA tournament by virtue of the team's opening round victory.
The teams are not the eight lowest-ranked teams in the field; the four lowest-ranked at-large teams usually have higher rankings among the entire field of 68 than several of the automatic-bid teams coming from the smaller conferences. The four games are held to determine which teams will assume a place in the first round. Unlike other early games in the tournament, the teams are not matched with disparity intended. Rather, equality governs match-ups (e.g., in one game, two teams—usually two of the four lowest-ranked automatic-bid teams—might play for a No. 16 seeding in the first round, while in another game, two teams—usually two of the four lowest-ranked at-large teams—are usually trying to advance as a No. 11 seed).
While most NCAA tournament games are played Thursday through Sunday (with the final game on a Monday), the First Four games are played earlier in the first week, between Selection Sunday and the First Round on Thursday and Friday. As of 2017, two games are played on the Tuesday following Selection Sunday, and the remaining two are played on Wednesday. Once the First Four games are played, the four winning teams assume their places in the bracket of 64 teams, and must play again later that week, with little rest. The two Tuesday winners are paired with their next opponent on Thursday; and, the Wednesday winners play on Friday. With the Second Round being played on Saturday and Sunday, this scheduling allows for six consecutive days of competition during the first week of the tournament.
With the exception of 2019, at least one of the First Four winners has advanced past the First Round of the tournament every year since the format's inception. Five teams have advanced to the second weekend and the Sweet 16.VCU (2011) and UCLA (2021) are the only two First Four teams to reach either the Elite Eight or the Final Four. In 2020, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Denotes that team went on to win the national championship|
|Game went into overtime|
The tournament results for the First Four teams since the tournament's expansion to 68 teams are shown in the table below.
Unless noted otherwise, the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio, has hosted all games.
(OT) indicates overtime.
Subsequent games are notated as round, score, opponent, and opponent's seed. For the round, R64, R32, S16, E8, F4, and NC indicate the First Round (Round of 64), Second Round (Round of 32), Regional Semifinals (Sweet 16), Regional Finals (Elite Eight), National Semifinals (Final Four), and National Championship, respectively. Scores for subsequent games are listed with the First Four team's score first; thus, a lower score first indicates a loss and a higher score first indicates a win. Wins are shown in bold.
† Played at Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana (Host: Purdue University)
‡ Played at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana (Host: Indiana University Bloomington)
- ^"The First Four of the NCAA tournament, explained | NCAA.com". www.ncaa.com. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
- ^"NCAA plans to expand tournament from 65 to 68 teams". Sports Illustrated. April 22, 2010. Archived from the original on April 28, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2010.
- ^"New bracketing principles adopted for 2021 NCAA tournament | NCAA.com". www.ncaa.com. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
- ^"Jeff Sagarin computer ratings". USA Today. April 8, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
- ^Steinberg, Russell (March 22, 2019). "Fair or not, the First Four has become a showcase for HBCUs". Mid-Major Madness. Retrieved March 19, 2021.
- ^Marshall, Kendrick. "NCAA basketball committee member explains why HBCUs are placed in the First Four". Retrieved March 19, 2021.
- ^"NCAA Tournament 2001 - This play-in concept has potential". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
- ^Bolch, Ben (March 22, 2021). "March Madness: UCLA cruises past Abilene Christian and into the Sweet 16". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
- ^Borzello, Jeff (March 28, 2021). "Dominant overtime helps UCLA secure spot in Elite Eight of NCAA men's basketball tournament". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
- ^Bolch, Ben (March 30, 2021). "UCLA defeats No. 1 Michigan to go from First Four to Final Four". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
Four bracket first
site: media | arena: collegebasketball | pageType: home-feature | section: | slug: | sport: collegebasketball | route: bracketology | 6-keys: media/spln/collegebasketball/reg/free/bracketology
Real time updates by CBS College Hoops expert Jerry Palm on NCAA March Madness Bracket Projections
Bracket Predictions UpdatedAug 19, 11:08am
The First Four of the NCAA tournament, explained
The First Four is the official start to March Madness: four games traditionally played on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of the NCAA tournament.
Things will be different in 2021 because of the pandemic. The NCAA announced Jan. 19 that all First Four games will be played on Thursday, March 18. The first round will begin the next day.
Here’s everything you need to know about the First Four:
Who's in the First Four this season?
Two of this year's First Four match up Norfolk State vs. Appalachian State and Mount St. Mary's vs. Texas Southern in games between No. 16 seeds. These four are the last four automatic qualifiers on the official seed list.
The two at-large games will see Michigan State against UCLA and Wichita State play Duke. These four were the last four at-large teams on the seed list.
WATCH: Norfolk St. vs. App St. | Mount St. Mary's-Texas Southern | Wichita St. vs. Drake | Michigan St. vs. UCLA
The Norfolk State-Appalachian State winner will play No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga, while the Mount St. Mary's-Texas Southern winner will play No. 1 Michigan. Meanwhile, the Wichita State-Drake winner will face No. 6 USC and the Michigan State-UCLA winner will play No. 6 BYU.
Here are the times, TV channels and scores for the 2021 First Four:
When did the First Four start?
In 1999, the Mountain West Conference was added to Division I. In its second season, 2000-2001, the conference received an automatic bid for the first time, bumping the total number of automatic qualifiers in the NCAA tournament to 31, and the total number of teams to 65.
From 2001 to 2010, this was addressed by an Opening Round game, where the two lowest-seeded teams would play on the Tuesday after Selection Sunday.
In 2011, the NCAA tournament expanded again, to 68 teams, with 31 automatic qualifiers, and 37 at-large bids, and the First Four was created to cull the teams to 64 for the first round.
Who plays in the First Four?
When selecting the teams for the NCAA tournament, the Selection Committee ranks every team from No. 1 through No. 68. In its current format, the First Four consists of eight teams — the four lowest-seeded automatic qualifiers, and the four lowest-seeded at-large teams. Each subset plays against itself (i.e., at-large teams face at-large teams, and automatic qualifiers face automatic qualifiers).
How do First Four teams do in the 64-team bracket?
Better than might be expected. Through 2019, at-large First Four winners, though seeded between No. 11 and No. 14, win the first round at a rate equal to a seed at least two spots better (No. 9 seeds). The standard-bearer is the 2010-11 VCU team, the 11 seed that made it to the Final Four after starting in the First Four. No team has repeated that run but 2019 is the only tournament where at least one at-large First Four team failed to win a game in the 64-team bracket. You can read exactly how First Four teams do here.
Who was in the inaugural First Four?
The 2011 First Four consisted of Texas, San Antonio, Clemson, UNC-Asheville, VCU, Alabama State, UAB, Arkansas-Little Rock, and Southern California. Here’s what that bracket looked like (First Four scores are in the bottom right):
When is the First Four played?
The First Four is normally played on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Selection Sunday, with the NCAA tournament’s Round of 64 starting that Thursday. In 2021, it will be played on Thursday, March 18.
Where is the First Four played?
The First Four has always been hosted at the University of Dayton, in Dayton Ohio. Here is more on Dayton's impressive history as a college basketball town. It will be played in Indiana in 2021.
Who are some notable teams that have come out of the First Four?
In all eight years of the First Four’s existence, at least one First Four team has survived until the Round of 32.
But no team has managed to match the success of VCU in 2011. The Rams knocked off 11-seed USC in the First Four, then downed 6-seed Georgetown, 3-seed Purdue, 10-seed Florida State, and 1-seed Kansas to reach the Final Four, where they fell to 8-seed Butler. VCU is still the only team to have made the Final Four from the First Four.
Daniel Wilco has worked at the AJC, Sports Illustrated, and SEC Country. His writing has also appeared on SI.com, Men’s Health, and The Cauldron.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.
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Do you include the Play-In Games in the March Madness Bracket Pool?
The First Four
You will notice on your March Madness Bracket four games that are not a part of the main bracket. These games are referred to as the "First Four", also known as the "Play-In" games. The winners of these four games move on to compete in the Round of 64.
To use or not to use
Our opinion is the First Four games should just be ignored when calculating points in your bracket pool. There seems to be an overwhelming agreeance with this from the major online bracket contest holders. We have filled out brackets with CBS, ESPN, NCAA.com, FOX Sports, and Yahoo and none of these sites use the play-in games.
Why aren't they used?
The main reason we recommend not using the play-in games is because the games begin on Tuesday, less than 2 days after the brackets are released. This allows very little time for the person running the pool to distribute the brackets, and very little time for the participants to fill in their picks. By excluding the first four games, the participants are given an extra 2 days to complete their brackets.