NCAA Tournament 2019: Round-by-Round Dates and Schedule Info

Jake RillContributor IIIMarch 11, 2019

North Carolina players celebrate while Duke's Jack White (41) walks away following an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, March 9, 2019. North Carolina won 79-70. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Four college basketball teams have already clinched their spots in the NCAA tournament by winning their conference tournaments. More teams will do so this week and upcoming weekend.

Then, the full 68-team field will be revealed Sunday evening, and March Madness will get underway next week.

Liberty (Atlantic Sun), Gardner-Webb (Big South), Bradley (Missouri Valley) and Murray State (Ohio Valley) are the four teams that have already secured their berths for this year's NCAA tournament.

Here's all the information you need to know about March Madness this year.


2019 NCAA Tournament Schedule

Selection Sunday: March 17

First Four: March 19-20

First round: March 21-22

Second round: March 23-24

Sweet 16: March 28-29

Elite Eight: March 30-31

Final Four: April 6

National Championship: April 8


Round-by-Round Breakdown

First Four

Since 2011, the NCAA tournament has opened with four play-in games. Two games feature the four lowest-seeded teams that received automatic bids (which will be No. 16 seeds) and two that feature the four lowest-seeded at-large bids (which will be No. 11 seeds).

All four games will take place at University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio, which has been the host of the First Four round since the tournament expanded from a single play-in game. The previous format had been in place from 2001 to 2010.

This is a good chance for fans to get to see teams that could make surprise runs later in the tournament. Since the creation of the First Four round, at least one of the winners has gone on to advance past the first round every year.

In 2011, the first year of the First Four, VCU secured the No. 11 seed with a victory over USC, then went on to make a run to the Final Four.


First and Second Rounds

After the field is down to 64 teams, the first round will take place on March 21 and 22, with 16 games scheduled for each day. There will then be eight second-round games on both March 23 and 24.

Here are the cities that will be hosting first- and second-round matchups this year:

March 21/23 games: Hartford, Connecticut; Salt Lake City; Des Moines, Iowa; Jacksonville, Florida

March 22/24 games: Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; San Jose, California

Teams cannot play at their home court or where their institution is hosting. For example, South Carolina would not be put in the region in which Columbia is a host city.


Sweet 16 and Elite Eight

As the field gets smaller, there are fewer games each day of the tournament, but the stakes get higher. There will be four games on both March 28 and 29 in the Sweet 16 round, followed by two games on both March 30 and 31 for the Elite Eight round.

Here are the host cities for these two rounds:

March 28/30 games: Louisville, Kentucky; Anaheim, California

March 29/31 games: Washington, D.C.; Kansas City, Missouri


Final Four and National Championship

This year's Final Four is set to take place at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, with the two semifinal games occurring April 6, followed by the national championship April 8.

This will be the first Final Four for this stadium, which opened in 2016. Minneapolis has hosted the Final Four and national championship game three previous times—at Williams Arena in 1951 and at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1992 and 2001.

U.S. Bank Stadium will become the 40th different venue to host the Final Four.


March Madness TV Schedule

Like recent past years, CBS and Turner Broadcasting (TBS, TNT and truTV) have the rights to the NCAA tournament.

Here is the list of which networks will air each round of the tournament:

First Four: truTV

First and second rounds: CBS, TBS, TNT, truTV

Sweet 16 and Elite Eight: CBS, TBS

Final Four and national championship: CBS


March Madness Prediction

Although the NCAA tournament starts in just more than a week, it's tough to make March Madness predictions before seeing the full 68-team field, including the seedings, first-round games and potential matchups for later rounds.

Despite that, the three top teams from the ACC—Virginia, North Carolina and Duke—should all be among the early favorites to have strong showings during the NCAA tournament. Any of those three schools could win the upcoming ACC tournament, and it's possible the winner of that could earn the No. 1 overall seed.

Those three schools have all had success in recent years, so none of them would be a surprising pick to win it all this season.