NCAAB

When Does College Basketball Start?

The road to March Madness begins soon for men's and women's college basketball teams, find out all the important dates.

October 25, 2023

The road to March Madness for men’s and women’s college basketball teams officially begins Monday, November 6, when a bunch of schools tip off the season in non-conference games. The entire schedule for the season can be found here for the men  and here for the women. 

For the first several weeks, men’s and women’s teams will play non-conference games and in early-season tournaments, such as the Maui Invitational (including Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga, and other teams), Empire Classic (Indiana, UConn), Battle 4 Atlantis (Villanova, North Carolina, Michigan), Preseason NIT (Florida, Baylor) and the ESPN Invitational (Virginia Tech, Penn State, VCU). And there are many other tourneys as well. 

Conference games then begin at various times for different conferences. Some will start in early December, others later in December, still others in January. 

The regular season will culminate with conference tournaments for most schools, in late February and early March. Schools with good enough records may be chosen for the NCAA tournament (68 teams), the National Invitational Tournament (32) or the College Basketball Invitational (16).

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Fox Sports also has announced it is considering forming a postseason tournament that would include Power 5 conference teams that do not qualify for the NCAA tournament. The Power 5 is an unofficial name referring to these conferences: 

  • Big Ten 
  • Big 12 
  • Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) 
  • Pacific-12 (Pac-12) 
  • Southeastern Conference (SEC) 
  • Selection Sunday

Selection Sunday

On Sunday, March 17, after the conclusion of all the men’s and women’s regular seasons, 68 schools will be selected by committee for both the men’s and women’s Division I tournaments: 

  • 60 teams will make up the 1-15 seeds in the four men’s regionals – East, West, Midwest and South 
  • 60 teams will make up the number 1-15 seeds in the four women’s regionals, which are each named after the host cities, which typically are in the East, West, South and Midwest. 
  • In addition, four at-large teams are chosen for each of the tournaments. These four teams will play the No. 16 seeds for each of the regionals in what is called the “First Four.”  

First Four Explained 

When selecting the teams for the NCAA tournament, the committee ranks every team from No. 1 through No. 68. The field of 68 includes the 32 automatic qualifiers — the winners of all the conference tournaments — plus 36 at-large teams.  

The First Four consists of eight teams — the four lowest-seeded automatic qualifiers, and the four lowest-seeded at-large teams. The auto-bid teams play each other, with the winners becoming two of the No. 16 seeds. The at-large teams play each other, with the winners becoming two of the No. 11 seeds. 

The NIT and CBI will also fill their brackets on March 17 from the teams that were not selected for the main tournament. 

There are also Division II and III tournaments for men’s and women’s schools.

LSU women's team celebrates winning the national title

Key Men’s and Women’s Dates

These are the key postseason dates for the men’s NCAA tournament: 

  • Selection Sunday: Sunday, March 17 
  • First Four: March 19-20 
  • First round: March 21-22 
  • Second round: March 23-24  
  • Sweet 16: March 28-29  
  • Elite Eight: March 30-31  
  • Final Four: Saturday, April 6 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. 
  • NCAA championship game: Monday, April 8 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. 

The past three winners have been Connecticut (2023), Kansas (2022) and Baylor (2021).

These are the key postseason dates for the women’s NCAA tournament: 

  • Selection Sunday: Sunday, March 17 
  • First Four: March 20-21 
  • First round: March 22-23 
  • Second round: March 24-25 
  • Sweet 16: March 29-30 
  • Elite Eight: March 31-April 1 
  • Final Four: April 5 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. 
  • NCAA championship game: April 7 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. 

The last three women’s tournament winners have been LSU (2023), South Carolina (2022) and Stanford (2021).

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Alex Valdes
Alex Valdes is Web Content Manager at Tipico North America. He has written, edited and performed user and site analysis at MoneyTalksNews, NBC Sports, MSN, Bing, MSNBC, as well as newspapers and magazines.
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