It’s hard to believe, but Selection Sunday is less than a month away.
It’s that time of year where upsets are expected and underdogs are given new life. Where regular season records, win streaks and rankings are basically obsolete and the team that came to play that day shines.
On March 15, CBS will broadcast Selection Sunday and reveal the 68 teams moving on to the dance this year.
But leading up to that and, of course, beyond that, there are some key dates to mark down on your calendars.
Here are the key dates for March Madness 2015:
Saturday, March 7 – End of NCAA Non-Ivy League Regular Season
Kentucky is the only team in the land of the unbeaten. And while Wildcats’ Head coach John Calipari and his squad are in the pursuit of perfection, Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski is looking to claim his fifth National Championship title. Earlier this season Coach K became Coach 1K and Kounting when he reached his 1,000th career win – the first for a Division I men’s basketball coach in NCAA history.
Wisconsin (23-2) will look to keep up the momentum in hopes to get past the Final Four hump and into the championship game. And VCU’s coach Shaka Smart will look to revamp his offense following the loss of senior guard Briante Weber to a torn ACL and meniscus and a sprained MCL.
There’s still lots of action to be had in college hoops before the final day of the regular season.
Tuesday, March 10 – End of Ivy League Regular Season
Keep in mind the Ivy League does not hold a conference tournament because the regular season champion will be the first automatic bid awarded. Harvard and Yale are tied for the No. 1 ranking in the Ivy League – both post a 7-1 record in league play.
If you look at their performances overall, Harvard has a better record, 17-5, with a 77.3 win percentage. Yale is 18-7 overall with a 72.0 win percentage. And in their first meeting on February 7, Harvard traveled to Yale and came away with the win, 52-50. The two will meet again on Harvard’s home court March 6.
If Harvard were to win the second game against Yale, clenching the regular season sweep, but both still ended up tied for first in the rankings, they would compete in a one-game playoff.
Both teams would still be crowned as co-champions of the Ivy League, but the one-game playoff, which would be held at the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra Arena, determines which one comes away with the automatic bid to the tournament.
There have only eight men’s basketball seasons that have ended in a on-game playoff. The most recent was the 2010-11 season between Harvard and Princeton. Princeton came out victorious with a bid the tourney, and fell just shy of defeating 4th-ranked Kentucky in the second round, losing 59-57.
Tuesday, March 3 – Sunday, March 15 – Conference Tournaments
March 4, 8, 14 – America East Conference Tournament at various campus sites
March 12- 15 – American Athletic Conference Tournament at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut
March 11- 15 – Atlantic 10 (A-10) Conference Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
March 10- 14 – Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina
March 3- 8 – Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at various campus sites
March 11- 14 – Big 12 Conference Tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri
March 11- 14 – Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City
March 12- 14 – Big Sky Conference Tournament at the home court of the regular season champ
March 4- 8 – Big South Conference Tournament at the HTC Center in Conway, South Carolina
March 11- 15 – Big Ten Conference Tournament at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois
March 12- 14 – Big West Conference Tournament at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California
March 6- 9 – Colonial Athletic Association Conference Tournament at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, Maryland
March 11- 14 – Conference USA Conference Tournament at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama
March 3- 10 – Horizon League Conference Tournament at various campus sites the first round, the quarterfinals and semifinals at the top seed’s home court and the final at the top remaining seed
March 5- 9 – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament at Times Union Center in Albany, New York
March 11- 14 – Mid-American Conference Tournament at various campus sites the first round and the rest at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio
March 9- 14 – Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Virginia
March 5- 8 – Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri
March 11- 14 – Mountain West Conference Tournament at Thomas & Mack Center in Paradise, Nevada
March 4, 7, 10 – Northeast Conference Tournament at various campus sites
March 4- 7 – Ohio Valley Conference Tournament at Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee
March 11- 14 – Pacific-12 (Pac-12) Conference Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada
March 3, 5, 8, 11 – Patriot League Conference Tournament at various campus sites
March 11- 15 – Southeastern Conference Tournament at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina
March 6- 9 – Southern Conference Tournament at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina
March 11- 14 – Southland Conference Tournament at Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas
March 10- 14 – Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas
March 7- 10 – The Summit League Conference Tournament at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
March 12- 15 – Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana
March 5- 10 – West Coast Conference Tournament at Orleans Arena in Paradise, Nevada
March 12- 14 – Western Athletic Conference Tournament at Orleans Arena in Paradise, Nevada
Sunday, March 15 – Selection Sunday on CBS
Selection Sunday is the first time all 68 teams going to the tournament are revealed. The first 32 teams are those that have won their conference tournament championship. So not only do those teams go home with a conference title in their back pockets, but also an automatic bid to the dance.
As mentioned, the Ivy League regular season champ gets an automatic tournament bid. And as for the remaining 36 teams, the selection committee spends days leading up to Sunday to decide which teams they will be awarding an at-large bid.
Once the final decisions have been made, the seeds and brackets are released to the public. You can check out a blank bracket here: (Click the image for the option to download a printable version.)
Tuesday, March 17 – Wednesday, March 18 – First Four at University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio
The First Four, which started in 2011, refers to the number of games played, not the number of teams. The four games are held to determine which four teams will be advancing to the Round of 64.
The games consist of the lowest four at-large bid teams versus the lowest four automatic bid teams. Despite how the First Four are determined, the teams are not usually the lowest eight teams in the field with regards to rankings during the regular season.
Thursday, March 19 – Friday, March 20 – Second Round at various locations
The Round of 64 – aka, arguably the two most exciting days of the year in sports. This is when the upsets happen because the No. 1 seed plays the No. 16, the No. 2 plays the No. 15, and so on and so forth in every region. It’s 32 games within a 48-hour time span that showcases who came to play and why rankings don’t always determine the final outcome.
Saturday, March 21 – Sunday, March 22 – Third Round at various locations
Known as the Round of 32, this is when things get interesting and everyone’s bracketology skills are really tested. This is the round where the victors of the second round have to gear up and get ready for their next opponent with less than two days to prepare. The teams who won on Thursday play in eight games on Saturday and Friday’s winners follow up on Sunday.
Second and third round locations include:
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida; KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky; Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Moda Center in Portland, Oregon; Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina; Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio; CenturyLink Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska; KeyArena in Seattle, Washington
Thursday, March 26 – Friday, March 27 – Sweet 16 at various locations
The Sweet 16 round, which is also known as the regional semifinals, kicks off the second week of the tournament. Four games are played on Thursday and the other four are held on Friday. Then, similar to the second and third rounds, it’s a quick turn around to the Elite Eight for those teams that won.
Saturday, March 28 – Sunday, March 29 – Elite Eight at various locations
Like round two and three, the regional finals – Elite Eight – games immediately follow the Sweet 16. Thursday’s victors play on Saturday and Friday’s winners play on Sunday. And the four regional champs makeup the Final Four teams.
Sweet 16 and Elite Eight locations include:
Midwest Regional at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio; West Regional at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California; South Regional at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas; East Regional at Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York
Saturday, April 4 – Sunday, April 5 – Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana
The Final Four notes the third and final week of the March Madness tournament. The two games take place on Saturday, and the matchups of which regional champion will play which are determined by the overall rankings of the four No. 1 ranks in the original bracket.
Monday, April 6 – National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana
Just two days after advancing past the Final Four, two teams will come to face-to-face with each other, both vying for the National Championship title, and of course, bragging rights. This is where the journey to the tourney ends and one team is crown March Madness Champs.