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March Madness Selection Sunday: Full Guide With Everything You Need To Know

Publish Date:03/07/2023
Fact checked by: Allan Howe

March Madness logo on basketball pitch

College basketball fans and sports bettors are lucky that they have many keystone moments in the hoops season. One is opening night when college teams open the season with fanfare in front of passionate fans screaming and waving towels in the arena.. Another is the Final Four.

Then there’s Selection Sunday, when college basketball teams across the nation watch with anticipation to see if they’ve been chosen to compete in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Selection Sunday brings fans, players, and coaches together: everyone is watching the event to learn the field of teams that will challenge for the Div-1 title in basketball.

Using our College Basketball Selection Sunday Guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about this event.

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🏀 NCAA Selection Sunday Time For the Men's Tournament & Where to Watch 🏀

Selection Sunday Time: March 12, 6 p.m. EST
📅 Date: Sunday, March, 12

🕚 Game Time: 6 p.m EST

📺 How to Watch: CBS

🏀 NCAA Selection Sunday Time For the Women's Tournament & Where to Watch 🏀

Selection Sunday Time: March 12, 8 p.m. EST
📅 Date: Sunday, March, 12

🕚 Game Time: 8 p.m EST

📺 How to Watch: ESPN

Televised Anxiety: The Sunday Selection Show for NCAA March Madness

Selection Sunday Time: March 12, 6 p.m. EST on CBS

During the live selection show, the brackets and field for the NCAA Mens' Div-1 Basketball Tournament will be revealed. That means you’ll learn which teams will face off in each of the four brackets.

Selection Sunday is thrilling because teams “on the bubble” will watch the show together, and be on camera to learn if they make the March Madness field.

Over the course of a broadcast that lasts about 90 minutes, the teams will be revealed and matchups shown for round one. Analysts will dissect the games, and debate the seedings and other factors.

By the time teams reach March, the strain of the long regular season is wearing on the young college ballplayers. If a team has anywhere near 20 wins, it’s most likely that they will be chosen for the 68-team Division-I men’s basketball tournament. Usually ranked teams (those ranked at least in the top 25 nationally) are locks for the tournament.

The field consists of 32 teams given “automatic bids,” which means they won their conference's tournament. The other 36 Div-1 college basketball teams are classified as “at-large” teams, selected by the NCAA Selection Committee based on some other criteria, such as record, success against top-ranked teams, strength of schedule, and more.

But if a team’s fate is uncertain, it’s said that they are “on the bubble.” That means anxiety as the season winds down.

Most college sports conferences have a postseason tournament to determine a champion. Some crown both a regular season and tournament champion, which of course can be the same school.

A conference tournament, such as the ones held by the Big 10 and SEC, give teams on the bubble a last chance to prove they belong in the NCAA Tournament. Typically, conference champions are automatically invited to compete, but at-large bids can be given to many schools, including a team that has a good showing in their conference tourney.

A conference can decide for itself whether a regular season champion or the conference tournament champion is seen as the “true” conference champ. That’s important, because only one official conference champion can earn the automatic NCAA tournament bid.

The conference tournaments take place the week leading up to Selection Sunday. When is Selection Sunday you might ask? This year, Selection Sunday is March 12, at 6 p.m. EST on CBS. Many people bet on the conference tournaments leading into March Madness, as well.

March Madness 2023 Schedule

2023 DATES ROUND CITY, STATE VENUE
March 14-15 First Four Dayton, OH UD Arena
March 16 & 18 First/Second Rounds Birmingham, AL/td> Legacy Arena
March 16 & 18 First/Second Rounds Des Moines, IA Wells Fargo Arena
March 16 & 18 First/Second Rounds Orlando, FL Amway Center
March 16 & 18 First/Second Rounds Sacramento, CA Golden 1 Center
March 17 & 19 First/Second Rounds Albany, NY MVP Arena
March 17 & 19 First/Second Rounds Columbus, OH Nationwide Arena
March 17 & 19 First/Second Rounds Denver, CO Ball Arena
March 17 & 19 First/Second Rounds Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
March 23 & 25 West Regional Las Vegas, NV T-Mobile Arena
March 23 & 25 East Regional New York, NY Madison Square Garden
March 24 & 26 Midwest Regional Kansas City, MO T-Mobile Center
March 24 & 26 South Regional Louisville, KY KFC Yum! Center
April 1-3 Final Four Houston, TX NRG Stadium

What They Reveal in Selection Sunday

The NCAA tournament has four regions (East, West, Midwest, and South). Each region features 16 teams competing to advance (not counting the four-play-in teams). The tournament is a single-elimination event played at multiple locations across the United States.

There are an additional four teams that compete in “play-in” games to get into the regions and start the 64-team tournament. That means 68 teams are named during Selection Sunday.

On Selection Sunday, the show reveals the 16 teams that are in each region, with matchups. Each region is seeded from 1 to 16. The top seed (No. 1 seed) plays the No. 16 seed, the No. 2 seed plays the No. 15 seed, and so on. Each region has 15 games: eight in the first round, four in the second round, two in the Sweet 16 round, and a Regional Final, also known as the Elite Eight.

The Selection Sunday Show provides three layers of drama:

  1. Did a team make it into the tournament?
  2. What seed is my favorite team and what matchup do they have in round one?
  3. How strong is each region?

Because of the unique structure of March Madness, even teams that are certain to be high seeds have drama and suspense. Because we learn what other top teams they will have to beat in their region, or where they must go to win.

Even though regions are named geographically, teams are not assigned to the regions based on where they are on the map. The NCAA selection committee goes to extraordinary lengths to craft the regions so they are balanced. In addition, typically, the NCAA will not have teams in the same conference playing each other in early rounds.

Every year the Selection Show produces controversy when a team with a mediocre record gets in, while one with more wins is left out. That’s because the selection committee must consider the strength of schedule, as well as gauge which teams are performing the best as the tournament begins. The NCAA tends to prefer to reward teams that have played well in February and March.

In 2004, one of the most controversial decisions came out of Selection Sunday when Utah State (25-4 in the regular season) became the first ranked team to not make the NCAA tournament. Despite being ranked 25th in the nation (the rankings go to 25), Utah State was not selected, perhaps based on a shocking loss in the BiG West tournament against Cal State Northridge, who were 13-15 at the time.

Teams that fail to be picked during Selection Sunday, usually are asked to compete in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

March Madness: What All the Fuss is About

Why is Selection Sunday such a big deal? Because the field for the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament is being determined. Later that evening, and again this year on March 12, the women’s field is also set (at 8 p.m. EST).

For many sports fans and sports bettors in the United States, the NCAA Tournament is the biggest event of the year. The nature of the hectic first two rounds, when games are basically going on every hour for four days, makes it thrilling. The last-second buzzer-beater shots are exciting. And the finality of a single-elimination tournament is riveting.

Thrilling, exciting, and riveting. Isn’t that we all want from our sports? The NCAA Basketball Tournament has that for three consecutive weeks, culminating in the Final Four, and the National Championship Game.

The 2023 NCAA March Madness championship game is scheduled for Monday, April 3, in Houston, Texas.

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