Amazing comebacks, wild and crazy fans and buzzer-beating shots are key ingredients of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Division Championships, which take place in March. With familiar coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), Connecticut's Jim Calhoun and North Carolina’s Roy Williams pacing on the sidelines, the scene is a basketball-lover's nirvana.
Perennial contenders like defending champion Connecticut, 2010 champion Duke and 2009 champion North Carolina are again expected to compete for the crown, along with high-performing teams like Kentucky, Syracuse, Ohio State, Missouri, Kansas, Baylor, Michigan State and Florida. If you’re looking for a dark-horse team, Murray State, Creighton, UNLV and Georgetown are all primed to make a run.
Players to watch
Every year, a select group of players enhances their star status with eye-opening performances in the division championships. Several of these talented youngsters will go on to become household names in the NBA. Among those to watch this year are future NBA stars like Jared Sullinger of Ohio State, Harrison Barnes of North Carolina, Austin Rivers of Duke and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky.
The action starts off the court on Sunday, March 11, when 68 teams are chosen to participate in the tournament (initial games reduce the field to a final, 64-team bracket). First-round games are played March 13-14 in Dayton, Ohio, followed by second and third rounds on the following dates and locations:
- March 15 and 17: Rose Garden (Portland, Ore.), The Pit (Albuquerque, N.M.), Consol Energy Center (Pittsburgh) and KFC Yum! Center (Louisville, Ky.);
- March 16 and 18: Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio), Qwest Center (Omaha, Neb.), Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, Tenn.) and Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, N.C.).
At this point, the field has been narrowed to 16 teams, who play each other at four regional sites:
- March 22 and 24: East Regional, TD Garden (Boston) and Southwest Regional, US Airways Center (Phoenix);
- March 23 and 25: Midwest Regional, Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis) and Southeast Regional, Georgia Dome (Atlanta).
The regional winners, known as “The Final Four," meet in New Orleans at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on March 31 for national semifinals games and April 2 for the finals.
Four different networks—CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV—will broadcast the games, which will be the first nationwide telecast of all NCAA Men’s Basketball Division Championships. The Selection Sunday broadcast is on CBS March 11 at 6 p.m. (EST), when match-ups are announced. CBS and TBS will televise the regional semifinals, and CBS alone will televise the regional finals featuring the remaining eight teams.
The Final Four and National Championship will be televised by CBS on a Saturday evening doubleheader, and on Monday, April 2, starting at 9 p.m.