NCAA Bracket 2018: March Madness Tournament Schedule and Coverage

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2018

Jacob Evans has taken on a leadership role for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Jacob Evans has taken on a leadership role for the Cincinnati Bearcats.Aaron Doster/Associated Press

The clock is ticking down to the final days, hours and minutes until the NCAA tournament takes center stage.

The 68-team tournament may be the second-most anticipated event on the American sporting calendar after the Super Bowl. This year's version may differ from some of the more recent editions because the tournament appears to be a wide-open affair.

While the setup always gives the underdogs a chance to show off their skills, get hot and beat the more celebrated teams, there may be a more realistic chance of that happening this year because the top seeds may not be as dominant as in the past. 

The full field for the tournament will be announced Sunday, and it will be televised by TBS at 6 p.m. ET.    

Selection Sunday Schedule

When: Sunday, March 11 at 6 p.m. ET

Television: TBS

           

March Madness 2018 Schedule

First Four: Tuesday, March 13 and Wednesday, March 14

First Round: Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16

Second Round: Saturday, March 17 and Sunday, March 18

Sweet 16: Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23

Elite Eight: Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25

Final Four: Saturday, March 31

National Championship: Monday, April 2

All games will be broadcast on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. The games can also be live streamed at NCAA.com.

      

Virginia, Villanova, Kansas and Xavier are the likely No. 1 seeds and are getting plenty of attention. However, the No. 2 seeds may have just as strong an opportunity to come away with the championship as the top seeds.

Cincinnati, Duke, Michigan State and Auburn have an excellent chance to land those second seeds.

Cincinnati won the American Athletic Conference regular-season title by two games, and head coach Mick Cronin's team is not going to leave the tournament without a fight.

The Bearcats have plenty of talent on their roster, but it is the grit and tenaciousness they play with every night that could help them to have a memorable run.

Swingman Jacob Evans is leading the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game, while Gary Clark is scoring 12.7 points per night, shooting 51.3 percent from the field and securing a team-high 8.2 rebounds per night.

This has not been the kind of year that Duke fans are used to seeing. When the Blue Devils don't win the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title, Mike Krzyzewski's team is usually a game or two from the top spot. The Blue Devils finished four games behind Virginia and were not as good as the Cavaliers during the regular season.

However, Duke should never be counted out in the NCAA tournament because it has one of the most talented players in the country in freshman Marvin Bagley III and a top leader in senior Grayson Allen.

Bagley is averaging 20.7 points and 11.2 rebounds while shooting an astounding 60.4 percent from the floor. Allen is scoring 15.5 points per game and is not shy about taking big shots in clutch situations. He is also an outstanding free-throw shooter, connecting on 85.0 percent shots from the line.

Michigan State earned the regular-season Big Ten title, but the Spartans lost to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament semifinal round.

Head coach Tom Izzo's team got off to an excellent start, suffered a dip early in the Big Ten season and then won 13 games in a row before losing to the Wolverines.

Michigan State is known for solid fundamental play under Izzo, but the veteran coach has excellent talent on this year's team. Miles Bridges returned for his sophomore season to help Michigan State have a memorable run in the tournament, and he is averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Nick Ward and Cassius Winston are both averaging 12.6 points per game, while Joshua Langford and Jaren Jackson Jr. are both averaging in double figures.

Auburn may be a bit of a stretch to get a No. 2 seed, but the Tigers have a pair of big-time scorers in Mustapha Heron and Bryce Brown. Those two are averaging 16.6 and 16.4 points, respectively. Jared Harper is right behind those two with an average of 13.9 points per night. 

All three of Auburn's leading scorers are connecting on better than 80.0 percent of their free throws.

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