March Madness is on: How to watch and what to watch for in the 2024 NCAA Tournament

Colorado State forward Patrick Cartier (12) and Texas forward Brock Cunningham (30) chase a loose ball during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in that NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Colorado State forward Patrick Cartier (12) and Texas forward Brock Cunningham (30) chase a loose ball during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in that NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

March Madness is on.

The beloved annual tradition that is the NCAA Tournament opened this week with bracket busters and overnight stars — Oakland’s Jack Gohlke and Oregon’s Jermaine Couisnard, anyone? — emerging out of nowhere.

Who will win it all? UConn is the No. 1 overall seed and the trendy pick to claim a sixth overall title and become the first team to repeat as NCAA champion since Florida in 2006-07. Other top seeds are Houston, Purdue and North Carolina.

There are no obviously dominant teams this year and it could be a wild ride again; last year’s Final Four, remember, included two 5 seeds (Miami and San Diego State), the fourth-seeded Huskies and 9 seed Florida Atlantic.

TOP GAMES

6 Clemson vs. 11 New Mexico, Friday. Tigers enter off losses in three of their last four games. Richard Pitino’s Lobos are hot after knocking off San Diego State in Mountain West final.

8 Nebraska vs. 9 Texas A&M, Friday. The Cornhuskers are the only Power Five program to never win a game in the tournament. Their athletic director, Trev Alberts, made a surprise move to A&M last week to take the same job.

9 Michigan State vs. 1 North Carolina, Saturday. Tom Izzo’s Spartans looked like a dark horse to pay attention to in their opener while the Tar Heels cruised behind RJ Davis and Armando Bacot.

3 Creighton vs. 11 Oregon, Saturday. The Bluejays pulled away from Akron in their opener and looks who’s waiting in the second round: former coach Dana Altman and Oregon, who got a monster game from Jermaine Couisnard to oust 6-seed South Carolina.

HOW TO WATCH

Every game of the men’s tournament will be aired — here is a schedule — either on CBS, TBS, TNT or TruTV and their digital platforms, including Paramount+. TBS will handle the Final Four and national title game this year.

The NCAA is streaming games via its March Madness Live option.

BETTING GUIDE

The top three betting favorites (in order) are UConn, Houston and Purdue, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

WHEN ARE THE GAMES?

The first- and second-round games March 21-24 stretch from New York City to Spokane, Washington.

Sweet 16 weekend will see games March 28-31 in Boston (East Regional), Dallas (South), Detroit (Midwest) and Los Angeles (West).

The Final Four is in Glendale, Arizona, on Saturday, April 6, with the championship game the night of Monday, April 8.

GO DEEPER

March Madness as we know it could be on the way out amid all the changes in college athletics. But for now, enjoy the show and if it seems like everyone can score, there is a reason. Offense has evolved.

Everyone loves those buzzer beaters and late-game winners. The guys who hit those last year are back for more and the explain.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

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