It’s where basketball, brackets, and betting convene every spring to commence a captivating series of competitions in the ultimate fight to the finals. Each year in the United States, March Madness brings together basketball fans everywhere in a national tournament designed to build suspense, shatter expectations, and perhaps even carry teams that were once underdogs to the top of the game.
What is March Madness: The NCAA tournament explained
Typically occurring from mid-March through early April, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) March Madness tournament originated in 1939. However, “March Madness” wasn’t popularized as a synonymous name for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament until later on. The “madness” aspect of the games refers to the general hype among sports fans as well as the players themselves, as hundreds of U.S. college basketball teams strive to land one of the 68 spots in the competition.
Get up to speed on more about how the tournament works, when exactly it takes place, and ways to watch March Madness 2023 on TV.
How Does March Madness Work?
The March Madness NCAA tournament begins with 68 teams competing to continue playing for the national championship across three weekends of games. Both men’s and women’s college basketball teams do compete in March Madness—although it wasn’t until recently that the women’s brackets became as extensive as the men’s.
Past the first weekend of March Madness, only 16 teams will make it to the next round, known as the “Sweet Sixteen.” From there, the second weekend narrows the remaining teams down to the “Elite Eight” followed by the “Final Four.” The third and final weekend is all about the four teams who still remain for the semifinals. Then, of course, the last-standing semifinalists go head-to-head in the national championship game hoping to be crowned victorious.
How are the college basketball teams selected for the tournament? Of the total 68 teams, 32 of them will receive automatic bids as winners in their respective conferences that year. The NCAA selection committee chooses the other 36 teams based on their season performance during the season.
There weren’t always 68 total teams, however: In 2011, the NCAA expanded the field from 64 to 68 with an extra four teams. During the “First Four” weekend (the first round of games), these additional teams participate in “play-in” games to earn their spots among the final 64.
Thus commences the “seeding” process, during which the teams are placed into a bracket across four geographical regions and ranked from 1 to 16. Teams in the higher seeds play against teams in lower seeds—which fuels the unpredictability of the brackets and tournament as a whole as some competitors perform better (or worse) than expected. The first round will always include the same matchups: 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, and so on and so forth.
Check out more college basketball and March Madness information from DIRECTV.
When is March Madness?
As noted, March Madness takes place around the middle of March each calendar year. In 2023, the tournament will kick off with Selection Sunday on March 12 before the competition commences in Dayton, OH, March 14 and concludes in Houston, TX, the weekend of April 1.
The rest of the 2023 March Madness game dates you’ll want to remember are as follows:
- March 14-15: First Four
- March 16-17: Round 1
- March 18-19: Round 2
- March 23-24: Sweet 16
- March 25-26: Elite Eight
- April 1: Final Four
- April 3: NCAA championship game
You can view the full schedule details from the NCAA.
How To Watch The NCAA Championship without Cable in 2023
No cable subscription at home? No problem. It’s now easier than ever to watch the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament from your television or other device with a subscription to DIRECTV STREAM, Sling TV, YouTube TV, or Hulu with Live TV.
How To Stream The NCAA Championship
Whether you choose to watch online or live on your TV at home, there are several ways to stream the NCAA March Madness games.
For instance, you may sign in on the NCAA website through your TV provider information for unlimited access to all live games. If you don’t already have a satellite cable or streaming subscription, there’s still time to sign up for a DIRECTV STREAM or DIRECTV SATELLITE package. When you stream March Madness through DirecTV, you won’t have to miss a minute of the 2023 NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament. Enjoy it live or record on DVR to watch the games whenever it’s convenient for you!
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