March Madness 2018 schedule and what to know

Let the “insanity” begin.

March Madness is underway: college athletes are competing in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in hopes of being crowned national champions.

Read on for a look at the schedule from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and what to expect over the next few weeks.

What are some important dates?

Dozens of men’s college basketball teams will compete in March Madness.

 (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

March 11

Selection Sunday — the day the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee officially announces which 68 teams qualified for the NCAA tournament — kicked off Sunday night. 

Thirty-six teams are chosen to fill “at-large berths” to compete by the committee, which ranks all 68 teams and brackets them, the NCAA says. The other 32 teams are conference tournament champions who get automatic spots to play. 

The March Madness Selection Show revealed which teams got at-large spots: they include the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Arizona State Sun Devils, the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Auburn Tigers, the Butler Bulldogs, the Clemson Tigers, the Creighton Bluejays, the Duke Blue Devils, the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles. 

The Houston Cougars, the Kansas State Wildcats, the Miami Hurricanes, the Michigan State Spartans, the Missouri Tigers, the NC State Wolfpack, the Nevada Wolf Pack, the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Oklahoma Sooners also all received at-large bids. 

The Providence Friars, the Purdue Boilermakers, the Rhode Island Rams, the Seton Hall Pirates, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, the Syracuse Orange, the TCU Horned Frogs, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Texas Longhorns, the Texas A&M Aggies, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the UCLA Bruins, the Virginia Tech Hokies, the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Wichita State Shockers and the Xavier Musketeers round out the teams with at-large bids. 

Virginia was named the overall No. 1 seed for this year’s competition.

March 13 and 14

“The last four at-large teams on the overall seed list, as well as teams seeded 65 through 68, will be paired to compete in the First Four games on Tuesday and Wednesday following the announcement of the field,” according to the NCAA.

The four winning teams advance to the first round of the tournament. 

On Tuesday night, the Radford Highlanders defeated the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies beat the UCLA Bruins. 

Wednesday night’s games include the North Carolina Central State Eagles versus the Texas Southern Tigers and the Arizona State Sun Devils versus the Syracuse Orange.

March 15 and 16

Sixty-four teams will compete in first-round games in Boise, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Wichita to advance to the next stage. 

March 17 and 18

Thirty-two teams will battle it out in second-round games in the above-mentioned locations.

March 22 and March 23

The remaining teams will compete in the Sweet 16 round, which includes eight regional semifinal games in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and Omaha. 

March 24 and March 25

Teams in the Elite 8 round will play in regional finals in those same four cities. The four winning teams will head to the next stage. 

March 31

The Final Four round consists of two games in San Antonio.

April 2

The remaining two teams will duke it out in San Antonio for the national title. 

Which teams have automatic bids to compete? 

Thirty-two teams won conference tournaments, making them automatic qualifiers. Those include the Arizona Wildcats, the Bucknell Bison, the Buffalo Bulls, the Cal State Fullerton Titans, the Charleston Cougars, the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Davidson Wildcats, the Georgia State Panthers, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the Iona Gaels, the Kansas Jayhawks and the Kentucky Wildcats. 

Also in the mix are the Lipscomb Bisons, the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, the Loyola Ramblers, the Marshall Thundering Herd, the Michigan Wolverines, the Montana Grizzlies, the Murray State Racers, the North Carolina Central Eagles, the New Mexico State Aggies and the Penn Quakers. 

The Radford Highlanders, the San Diego State Aztecs, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, the Texas Southern Tigers, the UMBC Retrievers, the UNC-Greensboro Spartans, the Villanova Wildcats, the Virginia Cavaliers and the Wright State Raiders have automatic bids, too. 

Where can I get a bracket to fill out? 

You can download one from the NCAA website. 

How can I watch March Madness games?

NCAA says that the national semifinals will air on TBS 6:09 p.m. ET and 8:49 p.m. ET on March 31. The national championship is set to take place April 2 on TBS at 9:20 p.m. ET. 

Other information for March Madness games can be found here. Fans can who want to see the action in-person can also purchase game tickets online

Who won last year? 

Apr 3, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Theo Pinson (1) celebrates after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the championship game of the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports - 9992202

North Carolina clinched its sixth national title in basketball in 2017.

 (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 in the 2017 championship game. 

With the victory, North Carolina won the sixth national title in its basketball program’s illustrious history and head coach Roy Williams won his third championship, surpassing his mentor Dean Smith.

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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