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March Madness 2021: How to Watch, What to Know, Plus Printable Brackets

It's not too late to get in on the fun.


After taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, March Madness is officially set to begin this afternoon, with 18 winner-takes-all games scheduled to be played over the next 12 hours (and 16 more to be played on Saturday). But with the last tournament being played two years ago, you may be a little rusty on how exactly March Madness works and with only about an hour until the games begin, you may be scrambling to figure out where to watch the games and how to fill out a bracket. Here is everything you need to know.

Where to Watch

The opening game of the tournament between the 10th-seeded Virginia Tech Hokies and the 7th-seeded Florida Gators tips off at 12:15 pm EST, with games beginning every 30-75 minutes after that until the final game between the 5th-seeded Villanova Wildcats and the 12th-seeded Eagles at 9:57 pm EST. The games will be broadcast on CBS, TruTV, or TBS, so if you have cable, you’re all set.

If you don’t have cable, you can still stream the games using YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, or Paramount Plus. All of these offer free trials for users, so if you haven’t tried one of them out yet, now could be the perfect time to maximize your usage without having to pay.

What Do I Need to Know?

Part of the beauty of March Madness is that you don’t actually need to know much to get into it. Sure, more knowledge might help but you can have just as much fun rooting for teams you had never heard of before filling out your bracket. So here are the basics: 64 teams (68 initially but the First Four games were played yesterday. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it) are competing in a two-week tournament to see who will be the National Champion for the season. The teams are separated into four 16-team brackets and if you lose, you’re out. As fans, we fill out brackets to try and predict who is going to win and standard bragging rights come with whoever has the highest-scoring bracket. It’s really that simple.

Is It Too Late to Fill Out a Bracket?

No, but you’re cutting it close, as the first game starts in about 30 minutes. If you don’t have a specific group you’re playing with, you can still fill out a bracket at CBS Sports, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, NCAA, or countless other places. A lot of them will even let you fill out a bracket if you miss the deadline. If you are looking to get a physical version of your bracket, most places will let you print out your bracket without any problems. So start making picks and may the odds be ever in your favor.