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SPORTS

March Madness: How to Watch and What to Watch for in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four

March Madness is racing toward the national championship game.

The beloved annual tradition that is the NCAA Tournament opened 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 an overwhelming pick to claim a sixth overall title and become the first team to repeat as NCAA champion since Florida in 2006-07. The only other top seed still alive is Purdue.

Last year’s Final Four, remember, included two 5 seeds (Miami and San Diego State), the fourth-seeded Huskies and 9 seed Florida Atlantic. This year is a bit more traditional — except for 11-seed North Carolina State crashing the party.

The Final Four
1 UConn vs. 4 Alabama (8:49 p.m. Eastern, Saturday). The question before the tourney was who could stop the Huskies and that question hasn’t changed at all as UConn has won its NCAA games by 39, 17, 30 and 25 points. Next up: the Crimson Tide. Alabama hit 16 3-pointers to advance over Clemson and that came after the Tide eliminated top-seeded North Carolina.

1 Purdue vs 11 N.C. State (6:09 p.m. Eastern, Saturday). The Boilermakers have advanced behind big man Zach Edey, who dropped 40 points in his last game to help eliminate Tennessee. The 7-foot-4, 300-pound Edey and his strong supporting cast will face a Wolfpack team that has a standout big man of its own: D.J. Burns Jr., who is 6-9 and 275 pounds. N.C. State hasn’t made it this far since its 1983 championship team coached by the late Jim Valvano.

UConn center Donovan Clingan (32) celebrates after hitting a 3-pointer against Illinois during the second half of the Elite 8 college basketball game in the men’s NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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 betting favorite is UConn, followed by Purdue, Alabama and N.C. State, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

When are the games?

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. There is a lot of talk about expanding the tournament beyond 68 teams, a format that’s been in place since 2011.

For now, enjoy the show and if it seems like everyone can score, there is a reason. Offense has evolved. Just take a look at UConn.

Everyone loves those buzzer beaters and late-game winners. A lot of the guys who hit those last year came back for more. Edey was back too, though his basketball future after Purdue is murky.

If you like your team this season, take a good look. The transfer portal and the allure of NIL deals mean coaches have to worry about their rosters even amid March Madness.

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