When does March Madness 2021 start? Dates, time, schedule, locations for men’s NCAA tournament games

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After a year-long hiatus, the 2021 NCAA DI men’s basketball tournament is finally here. See below for all you need to know including the schedule, competition venues, how to get a printable bracket and find out whether or not fans will be allowed to attend games.

Who is the favorite to win the men’s 2021 NCAA Tournament?

According to PointsBet, Gonzaga leads the way as the clear favorite to win it all:

  1. Gonzaga (+210)
  2. Baylor (+625)
  3. Illinois (+625)
  4. Michigan (+825)
  5. Iowa (+1800)
  6. Ohio State (+2200)

Click here to bet on every March Madness game and more with PointsBet.

When does the 2021 NCAA Tournament begin?

The tournament officially tips off on Thursday, March 18 with the First Four.

First Four schedule

Thursday, March 18

(16) Texas Southern vs. (16) Mount St. Mary’s

  • Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
  • Start time: 5:10 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: truTV

(11) Drake vs. (11) Wichita St.

  • Where: Mackey Arena
  • Start time: 6:27 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: TBS

(16) Appalachian St. vs. (16) Norfolk St.

  • Where: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
  • Start time: 8:40 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: truTV

(11) UCLA vs. (11) Michigan State

  • Where: Mackey Arena
  • Start time: 9:57 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: TBS

RELATED: Click here to see the full March Madness schedule with matchups, times and more

 2021 Men’s NCAA Tournament Schedule and Locations:

  • Selection Sunday – Sunday, March 14 at 6:00 p.m. on CBS

  • First Four – Thursday, March 18: Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

  • First Round – Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20: Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Lucas Oil Stadium

  • Second Round – Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Lucas Oil Stadium

  • Sweet 16 – Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse

  • Elite Eight – Monday, March 29 and Tuesday, March 30: Lucas Oil Stadium

  • Final Four – Saturday, April 3: Lucas Oil Stadium

  • NCAA Championship Game – Monday, April 5: Lucas Oil Stadium

Will fans be allowed to attend games?

The NCAA announced in February that it will allow 25 percent capacity for NCAA Tournament games. This includes players, coaches, essential staff, and family members of players and coaches.

Where will the 2021 men’s NCAA tournament take place?

This year all games will take place in Indiana, primarily in the city of Indianapolis. Games will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

Teams will be able to practice at the Indiana Convention Center as multiple courts will be set up inside the venue. However, all teams will be housed on dedicated hotel floors, with physically distanced meeting and dining rooms and secure transportation will be provided to and from competition venues.

Where can I get a printable March Madness Bracket?

Click here to save and download the bracket for the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Our team at NBC Sports Edge shared their bracket predictions, check it out before you fill yours out.

               RELATED: March Madness 2021 – It’s time to stop making men’s sports the default

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NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

NCAA College World Series
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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.