March Madness 2021: Bracket Release Dates for Men's, Women's Tournaments

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 9, 2021

March Madness 2021: Bracket Release Dates for Men's, Women's Tournaments

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Men's and women's college basketball conference tournaments are being held through Sunday this week. And that should only whet fans' appetites for what's still to come after that.

    March Madness is only a little more than a week away, as the 68-team field for the NCAA men's basketball tournament will be announced Sunday evening. Then, the 64-team field for the women's tourney will be announced Monday night.

    It's been nearly two years since these tournaments have taken place because of the coronavirus pandemic. So there haven't been national champions crowned since 2019, but that will change in less than a month.

    Here's everything you need to know for the upcoming bracket releases for both the men's and women's tournaments.

Bracket Release Schedule

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    Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    Sunday, March 14

    Men's bracket release, 6 p.m. ET, CBS


    Monday, March 15

    Women's bracket release, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Early Men's Tournament Favorites

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    Kathy Batten/Associated Press

    There hasn't been a men's team go undefeated and win the national championship since Indiana went 32-0 in the 1975-76 season. But No. 1 Gonzaga could change that this year.

    The Bulldogs are currently 25-0 heading into the championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament on Tuesday. They'll be looking to beat BYU and capture their eighth WCC tourney title in nine seasons. And having beaten BYU twice already this season, there's a strong chance they'll do so again.

    Gonzaga will likely be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, and it will be one of the favorites to win the national championship. 

    No. 2 Baylor is 21-1 and won the Big 12 regular-season championship for the first time in program history. The Bears are now looking to win the conference tournament for the first time as well.

    If Baylor keeps its momentum going through the end of the Big 12 tourney, it could be tough to beat in March Madness.

    The Big Ten has several strong teams battling it out for the conference tournament championship this week. No. 3 Illinois, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Iowa and No. 9 Ohio State are all contenders not only for the Big Ten tourney title, but also to get hot and win the national championship.

    Michigan won the Big Ten regular-season title by going 14-3 in conference play, but it lost two of its last three games. One of those defeats was against Illinois last Tuesday, and the Fighting Illini have won 11 of their past 12 games and are playing some of their best basketball of the year.

    The SEC has a pair of strong teams in No. 6 Alabama and No. 8 Arkansas, while No. 7 Houston (AAC) or No. 14 Villanova (Big East) could also emerge as national title contenders out of their respective conferences. And don't count out the top ACC teams, such as No. 15 Florida State and No. 16 Virginia.

    So while Gonzaga may be the early favorite to go all the way and pull off an undefeated season, there are plenty of other teams that could knock off the Bulldogs before then.

Early Women's Tournament Favorites

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    David Butler II/Associated Press

    No surprises here: UConn is ranked No. 1 and currently has the best record in the country. And now, the Huskies are going to be looking to make a run to another national championship.

    UConn has won 11 national titles under coach Geno Auriemma and has reached the Final Four in each of the past 12 NCAA tournaments. However, the Huskies haven't won the national championship since winning four straight from 2013-16, and they've fallen in the Final Four in their past three tournament trips.

    During the regular season, UConn's only loss came at Arkansas on Jan. 28. It has since won 14 straight games, which included beating Marquette in the Big East championship game.

    While the Huskies may be difficult to beat, there are some other strong teams that could end up cutting down the nets and winning the national title instead.

    No. 2 Stanford (Pac-12) and No. 3 NC State (ACC) both only have two losses and won their respective conference tournaments. The Cardinal lost back-to-back games to Colorado and UCLA in mid-January, but they've bounced back with 14 straight wins. The Wolfpack have won eight games in a row after a stretch in which they lost two of three.

    The SEC has a pair of strong teams in No. 4 Texas A&M and No. 5 South Carolina that could both contend for the national title. The Gamecocks won the SEC tournament, bouncing back from a loss to the Aggies in the regular-season finale to win three straight in the tourney.

    Texas A&M won 23 of its first 24 games before getting upset by Georgia in the semifinals of the SEC tournament. But the Aggies are still a strong team that could make a deep run in the NCAA tourney.

    Will UConn add another national championship during the Auriemma era, or will one of these other teams emerge victorious? It should be exciting to watch when these teams likely begin to face each other in the late rounds of this year's tournament.