Players are prepped, brass bands are ready, and pep squads are standing by for the return of NCAA basketball! A brand new season of college hoops tips off on Monday, November 6, when a staggering 368 teams take to the hardwood. There will be plenty of blue bloods in action, with No. 1 Kansas hosting North Carolina Central and No. 2 Duke battling Dartmouth. Fans can also look forward to rooting on plenty of plucky underdogs, with schools like South Dakota Mines and Stanislaus State also lacing 'em up.
Opening night always gets lots of attention, but there are many more noteworthy events and tournaments on the NCAAB schedule that deserve just as much fanfare. Here are a dozen more can’t-miss dates that every college basketball fan should circle on their calendar.
November 16-17, 2023: Legends Classic
One of the first tournaments of the season also promises to be one of most entertaining as Auburn, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, and St. Bonaventure descend upon Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the annual Legends Classic. Given the state of the Nets, this may be the only chance Brooklyn fans have to see a champion crowned on their home court this season.
November 20-22, 2023: Maui Invitational
Although the weather outside is likely to be frightful elsewhere in the country by late November, it's guaranteed to be delightful in Hawaii, where some of the top teams in the nation will go toe-to-toe at the Maui Invitational. This year's star-studded field includes No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Purdue, No. 5 Marquette, Syracuse, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 11 Gonzaga, UCLA, and Chaminade.
November 22-24, 2023: Battle 4 Atlantis
The tropical vibes continue on Paradise Island in the Bahamas for the colorfully-named Battle 4 Atlantis, an annual three-day, 12-game tournament that has been a key part of the NCAA season since 2011. This year's very lucky invitees include No. 14 Arkansas, No. 19 North Carolina, No. 22 Villanova, Michigan, Memphis, Stanford, Texas Tech, and Northern Iowa.
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February 27, 2024: Conference tournaments begin
Things begin to get really interesting on February 27, when ASUN gets the ball rolling with conference tournament play. The Horizon League, Sun Belt, and Patriot Conferences join the fray the next day with season-ending tourneys of their own. Below is a list of key tournament dates from the biggest conferences in the nation.
|ACC||March 7-11, 2024||Greensboro, NC|
|Big 12||March 8-11, 2024||Kansas City, MO|
|Big East||March 8-11, 2024||New York City, NY|
|Pac-12||March 8-11, 2024||Las Vegas, NV|
|Big Ten||March 8-12, 2024||Chicago, IL|
|SEC||March 8-12, 2024||Nashville, TN|
March 17, 2024: Selection Sunday
College basketball coaches around the country are likely to drink their weight in Pepto-Bismol on March 17 as they await the fates of their programs. Tune into CBS and follow online as the 68-team fields for the men's NCAA Division I basketball tournament is revealed to the world.
March 19-20, 2024: First Four
Many traditionalists scoffed when the NCAA introduced the First Four in 2001, but the play-in round has become an integral part of March Madness over the years and perfectly captures the do-or-die ethos of the tournament. It's also served as the launchpad for several teams that enjoyed deep run including VCU, which advanced to the Elite Eight in 2011 and UCLA, which similarly made it to the Elite Eight a decade later in 2021.
March 21-22, 2024: First round
Did you know that more upsets occur in the first round than at any other time during March Madness? If you're looking for a strong trend, consider targeting a No. 13 seed, as those teams have won 21.1% of their first round matchups since 1985.
March 23-24, 2024: Second round
The Second Round is where the pretenders tend to get separated from the contenders. Since 2001, teams favored by double-digits have gone 48-2 straight-up and 31-19 against the spread.
March 28-29, 2024: Sweet 16
How sweet it is! The top remaining 16 teams will lay it all on the line for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight. This year's venues include TD Garden in Boston, Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, American Airlines Center in Dallas and Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
March 30-31, 2024: Elite Eight
The Elite Eight is generally a who's-who of college basketball royalty, but every now and again a pauper crashes the party. Who could forget 2022, when tiny Saint Peter's faced North Carolina? The Peacocks ultimately lost to the Tar Heels, but not before cementing their place as one of the tournament's most beloved underdogs. They remain the only No. 15 seed in history to advance that far.
April 4, 2024: NIT Championship Game
It may seem hard to believe, but the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was once a far bigger spectacle than March Madness. Founded in 1938, this prestigious postseason competition regularly attracted the finest teams in the nation and prompted droves of hoops fans to make a pilgrimage to New York City, where the final was contested at Madison Square Garden. It's admittedly lost a little of its shine in the last few decades, but the NIT still draws in top-flight programs like Michigan, Villanova, and Florida, all of whom competed in the event in 2023.
April 6, 2024: Final Four
All eyes will be on State Farm Stadium in Phoenix as Arizona State University hosts the Final Four and NCAA Championship Game. It's been a big couple of years for the Valley of the Sun, which also hosted the Super Bowl and World Series in 2023.
April 8, 2024: NCAA Championship Game
Who will be the last team standing when the final whistle blows and "One Shining Moment" begin playing? Will it be Kansas, which enters the season atop the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll? Will it be Purdue, which returns Wooden Award-winning big man Zach Edey? Or will it be a mid-major that captures the hearts and minds of fans and goes on an unforgettable Cinderella run? The only thing for certain is that we'll be glued to our tube while watching every minute of the action.