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NCAA tournament game times: When and how to watch March Madness

COVID-19 changed where the NCAA Tournament will be played and there's also a big change of when you can catch the games on TV and online.

The 2021 NCAA Tournament will be unlike anything fans have seen in recent memory. The biggest change is that all of the games will be played in and around Indianapolis. But additionally, the usual Thursday - Sunday schedule for the first two weekends is gone.

As usual, all 67 games of the tournament will air on CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV and online through corresponding digital platforms. You can also watch on NCAA.com or using the March Madness Live app. You need a valid television provider, validated using your account login information.

Games will be played on two courts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, home of the Final Four. Games will also take place at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.

Traditionally, the "First Four" games are played on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Selection Sunday. Now, they'll all be played on one day -- Thursday. That, in turn, will move the dates for the rest of the weekend. 

Here is the schedule and of when and where to watch each round. Scroll below to see a complete breakdown of game times for the First Four and First Round. 

First Four

  • Thursday, March 18
    • Starting at 4 p.m. ET (TBS, TruTV)

First Round

  • Friday and Saturday, March 19-20
    • Starting at noon ET (CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV)

Second Round

  • Sunday and Monday, March 21-22
    • Starting at noon ET (CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV)

Sweet Sixteen

  • Saturday, March 27
    • 2 p.m. ET (CBS) and 7 p.m. ET (TBS)
  • Sunday, March 28
    • 1 p.m. ET (CBS) and 7 p.m. ET (TBS)

Elite Eight

  • Monday, March 29
    • Starting at 7 p.m. ET (CBS)
  • Tuesday, March 30
    • Starting at 6 p.m. ET (TBS)

Final Four

  • Saturday, April 3
    • Starting 5 p.m. ET (CBS)

National Championship

  • Monday, April 5
    • 9 p.m. ET (CBS)

According to the NCAA website, here is the TV schedule for the First Four and First Round (All times Eastern): 

First Four TV Schedule

Thursday, March 18 (All times Eastern)

#16 Texas Southern vs. #16 Mount St. Mary's - 5:10 p.m. - truTV

#11 Drake vs. #11 Wichita State - 6:27 p.m. - TBS

#16 Appalachian State vs. #16 Norfolk State - 8:40 p.m. - truTV

#11 UCLA vs. #11 Michigan State - 9:57 p.m. - TBS 

First Round TV Schedule

Friday, March 19 (All times Eastern) 

#7 Florida vs. #10 Virginia Tech - 12:15 p.m. - CBS

#3 Arkansas vs. #14 Colgate - 12:45 p.m. - truTV

#1 Illinois vs. #16 Drexel - 1:15 p.m. - TBS

#6 Texas Tech vs. #11 Utah State - 1:45 p.m. - TNT 

#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Oral Roberts - 3 p.m. - CBS

#1 Baylor vs. #16 Hartford - 3:30 p.m. - truTV

#8 Loyola Chicago vs. #9 Georgia Tech - 4 p.m. - TBS

#5 Tennessee vs. #12 Oregon State - 4:30 p.m. - TNT

#4 Oklahoma State vs. #13 Liberty - 6:25 p.m. - TBS

#8 North Carolina vs. #9 Wisconsin - 7:10 p.m. - CBS

#2 Houston vs. #15 Cleveland State - 7:15 p.m. - truTV

#4 Purdue vs. #13 North Texas - 7:25 p.m. - TNT

#7 Clemson vs. #10 Rutgers - 9:20 p.m. - TBS 

#6 San Diego State vs. #11 Syracuse - 9:40 p.m. - CBS

#3 West Virginia vs. #14 Morehead State - 9:50 p.m. - truTV

#5 Villanova vs. #12 Winthrop - 9:57 p.m. - TNT

Saturday, March 20 (All times Eastern)              

#5 Colorado vs. #12 Georgetown - 12:15 p.m. - CBS

#4 Florida State vs. #13 UNC Greensboro - 12:45 p.m. - truTV

#3 Kansas vs. #14 Eastern Washington - 1:15 p.m. - TBS

#8 LSU vs. #9 St. Bonaventure - 1:45 p.m. - TNT

#1 Michigan vs. #16 Mount St. Mary's/Texas Southern - 3 p.m. - CBS

#5 Creighton vs. #12 UC Santa Barbara - 3:30 p.m. - truTV

#2 Alabama vs. #15 Iona - 4 p.m. - TBS

#6 USC vs. #11 Wichita State/Drake - 4:30 p.m. - TNT

#2 Iowa vs. #15 Grand Canyon - 6:25 p.m. - TBS

#7 UConn vs. #10 Maryland - 7:10 p.m. - CBS

#4 Virginia vs. #13 Ohio - 7:15 p.m. - truTV

#8 Oklahoma vs. #9 Missouri - 7:25 p.m. - TNT

#1 Gonzaga vs. #16 Norfolk State/Appalachian State - 9:20 p.m. - TBS

#6 BYU vs. #11 Michigan State/UCLA - 9:40 p.m. - CBS

#3 Texas vs. #14 Abilene Christian - 9:50 p.m. - truTV

#7 Oregon vs. #10 VCU - 9:57 p.m. - TNT

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