February is the last full month of college basketball’s regular season and then it is finally here – March Madness. Once all of the conference tournaments are complete, the NCAA’s selection committee will meet on Sunday, March 11, to determine this year’s 68-team field. Fans can watch the Selection Sunday special on CBS and ESPN where the committee will seed the 32 conference tournament champions and the 36 teams that make the tourney as at-large invitees.
The 2018 NCAA tournament gets underway with the First Four on March 13 and 14 at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The winners of the two games on Tuesday the 13th and Wednesday the 14th will advance the tournament’s First Round which begins play on Thursday. Here’s a look at the remaining tournament schedule.
First & Second Rounds
- March 15 and 17
- East Regional: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
- Midwest Regional: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, KS
- South Regional: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
- West Regional: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, ID
- March 16 and 18
- East Regional: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
- Midwest Regional: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
- South Regional: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
- West Regional: Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA
Regional Semifinals & Finals
- March 22 and 24
- South Regional: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
- West Regional: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
- March 23 and 25
- East Regional: TD Garden, Boston, MA
- Midwest Regional: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, NE
National Semifinals & Championship Game
- March 31 and April 2
- Alamodome: San Antonio, TX
Each year, a select committee is tasked with developing the men’s tournament. There are actually three phases involved in establishing the tournament. The committee is responsible for selecting the 36 best at-large teams, those teams that did not win their respective conference tournament but deserve to play for a national championship. The committed must also seed all 68 teams and then eventually place the teams into the championship bracket.
This year’s committee is chaired by Mark Hollis, current director of athletics at Michigan State University. The rest of the committee is as follows:
- Mitch s. Barnhart, director of athletics, University of Kentucky
- Janet Cone, director of athletics, University of North Carolina at Asheville
- Tom Holmoe, director of athletics, Brigham Young University
- Paul Krebs, vice president and director of athletics, University of New Mexico
- Bernard Muir, director of athletics, Stanford University
- Bruce Rasmussen, director of athletics, Creighton University
- Peter Roby, director of athletics, Northeastern University
- Jim Schaus, director of athletics, Ohio University
- Kevin White, director of athletics, Duke University
History of the Tournament
The original NCAA tournament was nothing like the spectacle that it is today. The very first tournament took place in 1939 with just eight teams. Oregon beat Ohio State 46-33 in Patten Gymnasium on the campus of Northwestern University. The first expansion of the tournament came in 1951 when another eight teams were added. The 16-team format last just two years and between 1953 and 1974 the NCAA tournament featured anywhere between 22 and 25 teams.
In 1975, the tournament expanded to 32 teams and in 1979 jumped to 40. The ’79 tournament was one to remember as Earvin “Magic” Johnson led the Michigan State Spartans to a victory over Larry Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores. The game increased the demand for college basketball and the NCAA took note expanding the tournament against to 52 teams in 1983 and 53 in 1984. The following year in 1985, the NCAA moved to 64 teams.
During the first decade of the 2000s, the tournament consisted of 65 teams. One play-in game determined whether the 64th or 65th team moved into the first round. Beginning in 2011, the field was expanded to its current level of 68 teams with four play-in games.
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