2021 NCAA Tournament: Some March Madness dates shift as full schedule and locations are set

Grab your calendar and a pen, because the official dates for the 2021 NCAA Tournament have just landed. The NCAA announced on Tuesday its full preliminary rounds information, including locations, for this year’s March Madness, revealing that the official start date will be on a Thursday as opposed to its normal Tuesday start date.

First Four action will begin March 18 followed by first round action on Saturday, March 19 and Sunday, March 20. Nearly all of the games before the Final Four are scheduled to take place later than what they typically do in a normal year. As expected, the national title game will be held on the first Monday of April — April 5 — with Lucas Oil Stadium playing host.

55 of the 67 games in the tournament this year will take place in Indiana, with Mackey Arena, Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum and Lucas Oil Stadium all serving as hosts of first-round games. The four venues in Indy will serve as sites for the remainder of the championship — including second round games — which are set to be held March 21 and March 22.

It’s not a massive overhaul to the NCAA Tournament format this year, but it certainly is an adjustment. It’s the first time we’ll have to wait until Thursday for NCAA Tournament games to start following Selection Sunday, and it’s the first time all of the games will be held primarily in one city, with Indy logistically being the most sensible option because of its myriad venues. Here’s a look at the schedule and how it breaks down.

2021 NCAA Tournament schedule

SUN MARCH 14 – Selection Sunday

THU MARCH 18 – First Four (2)

  • Mackey Arena in West Lafayette
  • Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington

FRI-SAT MARCH 19-20 – First round (1)

  • Mackey Arena in West Lafayette
  • Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis
  • Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

SUN-MON MARCH 21-22 – Second round (1)

  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
  • Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis
  • Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

SAT-SUN MARCH 27-28 – Sweet 16 (2)

  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis

MON-TUE MARCH 29-30 – Elite Eight (2)

  • Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

SAT APRIL 3 – Final Four

  • Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

MON APRIL 5 – National championship

  • Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis 

Number in parenthesis is number of days later than previously scheduled dates