NCAA Tournament: Who’s in, who’s out, local players to follow and how to watch

The brackets are filled for the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments.

Here’s what you need to know about the local teams and players who made it to the Big Dance — as well as who else is playing in the postseason and how you can watch all the action.

Who made the NCAA Tournament?

On the men’s side, Big Ten Tournament champion Illinois is the No. 3 seed in the East Region and will open against No. 14 Morehead State at 2:10 p.m. Thursday (truTV) in Omaha, Neb. If the Illini advance, they would face No. 6 BYU or No. 11 Duquesne on Saturday.

This is the fourth consecutive appearance for Illinois under coach Brad Underwood, but the Illini haven’t reached the Sweet 16 since the 2005 national runner-up team did it.

Joining Illinois in the East Region is ninth-seeded Northwestern, making consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in program history. All three of the Wildcats’ all-time bids have come in the last eight years under coach Chris Collins; they lost in the second round in 2017 and 2023.

Boo Buie and the Wildcats will open against No. 8 seed Florida Atlantic — a Final Four team a year ago — at 11:15 a.m. Friday (CBS-2) at the Barclays Center in New York. If Northwestern advances, defending national champion and No. 1 overall seed Connecticut likely awaits Sunday.

No Big Ten men’s basketball team has won an NCAA title since Michigan State in 2000.

Six Big Ten teams made the bracket, including top-seeded Purdue, which will face the winner of Wednesday’s play-in game between Grambling and Montana State at 6:25 p.m. Friday (TBS) in the Midwest Region.

No. 9 seed Michigan State meets No. 8 Mississippi State in the West Region at 11:15 a.m. Thursday (CBS-2), and No. 8 Nebraska and No. 5 Wisconsin head to the South Region, where the Cornhuskers take on No. 9 Texas A&M at 5:50 p.m. Friday (TNT) and the Badgers meet No. 12 James Madison at 8:40 p.m. Friday (CBS-2). Here’s the complete men’s bracket, with times and TV.

In the women’s NCAA Tournament, all eyes will be on Caitlin Clark and Iowa. The Hawkeyes — the top seed in the Albany 2 Region — will open at home Saturday against Holy Cross or Tennessee-Martin.

Clark, the NCAA Division I career scoring leader, posted the first 40-point triple-double in men’s or women’s tournament history last year and broke the single-tournament records for 3-pointers (24) and points (191). She begins the tournament with 3,771 points, which ranks eighth among men’s and women’s college players on any level.

Notre Dame is the No. 2 seed in the Albany 1 Region behind top-seeded South Carolina. Keep an eye on Hannah Hidalgo, the 5-foot-6 guard who was the ACC Tournament MVP. It capped a week in which Hidalgo was named the ACC’s freshman and defensive player of the year.

The Big Ten tied a conference record with seven teams in the women’s field: Iowa, No. 2 seed Ohio State, No. 4 Indiana, No. 6 Nebraska, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 9 Michigan and No. 14 Maryland. It’s the 19th time in the last 23 years and the 26th time in Big Ten history that at least six current conference members have gone dancing. Here’s the complete women’s bracket, with times and TV.

What about Loyola?

The Ramblers won a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, but they lost their conference tournament opener after earning a two-round bye into the quarterfinals. The double-overtime loss to St. Bonaventure meant Loyola wouldn’t be dancing this year. Instead, the 23-8 Ramblers will play 22-11 Bradley in a first-round NIT game Wednesday (6 p.m., ESPN+).

Also in the NIT field: Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State, Indiana State and Butler. Here’s the full bracket.

Which other teams are playing in the postseason?

The Illinois women will play in the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitation Tournament — a 32-team draw that begins Thursday. The 14-15 Illini will host 23-9 Missouri State at 6 p.m. at the State Farm Center. Here’s the full bracket.

The NCAA is sponsoring this tournament, an equivalent to the men’s NIT. In the past, the secondary women’s tournament was the WNIT and teams had to pay to host games. All games will be played on campus sites until the Final Four, which will be at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Miami was supposed to be a No. 1 seed but declined an invitation to the tournament. James Madison moved in and took the Hurricanes’ top spot.

Are there any notable local players to follow?


RayJ Dennis, Baylor (Oswego East)

Last season’s MAC Player of the Year at Toledo has started all 33 games for the Bears, averaging 13.3 points and 6.8 assists. Dennis was a second-team All-Big 12 selection and made the conference’s all-newcomer team at his third school in five seasons.

Nate Santos, Dayton (Geneva)

The junior forward transferred from Pittsburgh and has started all 31 games for the Flyers, averaging 12 points and 6.4 rebounds. Santos made the All-Atlantic 10 third team.

Conor Enright, Drake (Mundelein)

The redshirt sophomore guard is averaging seven points while starting 32 games for the Bulldogs.

Johnell Davis, Florida Atlantic (Gary 21st Century)

After starring during the Owls’ Final Four run last year, Davis was named co-Player of the Year in the American and made his second consecutive all-conference team. The junior guard is averaging 18.2 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Braden Huff, Gonzaga (Glenbard West)

A redshirt freshman forward, the 6-foot-10 Huff averages 9.4 points in 13.2 minutes off the bench for the Bulldogs. He was named to the West Coast Conference’s all-freshman team.

Justin Harmon, Illinois (Curie)

The fifth-year transfer from Utah Valley is averaging 6.1 points in 19.1 minutes while coming off the bench for the Illini.

Ty Rodgers, Illinois (Thornton)

The sophomore forward has started all 34 games and averages 6.7 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Terrence Shannon Jr., Illinois (Lincoln Park)

A first-team All-Big Ten selection for the second year in a row, Shannon is averaging 23 points and 4.1 rebounds in 28 games (27 starts).

Antonio Reeves, Kentucky (Simeon)

The SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year last season, Reeves moved into the starting lineup and made the all-conference first team. The fifth-year guard, who began his career at Illinois State, averages 20 points and 4.2 rebounds and is hitting 44.1% from 3-point range.

Christian Shumate, McNeese (Bloom)

The junior forward was the Southland’s Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference pick. Shumate is averaging 11.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 55.2% from the field.

Malik Hall, Michigan State (Metea Valley)

The fifth-year forward has started all but one of the Spartans’ games, averaging 12.6 points and 5.6 rebounds.

Nick Martinelli, Northwestern (Glenbrook South)

The Wildcats sixth man moved into the starting lineup after Ty Berry’s season-ending knee injury. The sophomore forward is averaging nine points and 4.2 rebounds overall, 12.7 and 6.9 since becoming a starter.

Chris Conway, Oakland (Naperville Central)

The senior forward is averaging 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in 33 starts for the Golden Grizzlies.

Jermaine Couisnard, Oregon (East Chicago (Ind.) Central)

The fifth-year guard, who began his career at South Carolina, is second on the Ducks in scoring with 15.4 points per game and also averages 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Couisnard was named to the All-Pac-12 second team.

Lance Jones, Purdue (Evanston)

A transfer from Southern Illinois, the fifth-year guard has started all 33 games for the Boilermakers and averages 12.2 points.

Brandon Newman, Western Kentucky (Valparaiso, Ind.)

The fifth-year guard transferred from Purdue and has started all 33 games for the Hilltoppers, averaging 10.5 points and 5.4 rebounds.

John Poulakidas, Yale (Neuqua Valley)

A junior guard, Poulakidas is second on the Bulldogs in scoring (13.1 points per game) and is hitting 39.3% from 3-point range. He was a second-team All-Ivy League selection.

Danny Wolf, Yale (Lake Forest Academy)

The 7-foot sophomore made the All-Ivy League first team. Wolf leads the Bulldogs with 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.


Skylar Jones, Arizona (Young)

The freshman guard is averaging 6.4 points in 29 games (13 starts) for the Wildcats.

Janelle Allen, Holy Cross (Marian Central)

The senior forward made the All-Patriot League third team for the second consecutive season, averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Sydney Affolter, Iowa (Marist)

The junior guard averages 7.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 33 games (six starts) for the Hawkeyes,

Taiyanna Jackson, Kansas (East Chicago (Ind.) Central)

A 6-6 fifth-year center, Jackson made the All-Big 12 first team and the conference’s all-defensive team. She’s second in the country with 3.1 blocks per game and averages 12.6 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 58.7% from the field.

Aneesah Morrow, LSU (Simeon)

The junior guard made the All-SEC first team after transferring from DePaul and averaging 16.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 steals.

Mackenzie Hare, Marquette (Naperville North)

The sophomore guard has started all but one game for the Golden Eagles, averages 14.1 points and is shooting 43.2% from 3-point range.

Bri McDaniel, Maryland (Kenwood)

The sophomore guard is averaging 12.7 points and four rebounds in 32 games (24 starts) for the Terrapins.

Cameron Williams, Michigan (Young)

A 6-3 senior forward, Williams has made 15 starts in 33 games for the Wolverines, averaging 7.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Emily Klaczek, Rice (Fremd)

The junior guard transferred from UAB and has made 18 starts in 32 games for the Owls, averaging 6.7 points and 3.5 rebounds.

Addie Budnik, Richmond (Highland Park)

The 6-2 senior forward was the Atlantic 10’s Defensive Player of the Year and a second-team all-conference selection. Budnik is averaging 11.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while starting all 34 games for the Spiders.

Alyssa Latham, Syracuse (Homewood-Flossmoor)

A 6-2 freshman forward, Latham has made 24 starts in 30 games for the Orange, averaging 8.7 points and 7.1 rebounds. She was named to the ACC’s all-freshman team.

Angela Dugalic, UCLA (Maine West)

After sitting out last season with a torn ACL, the 6-4 senior forward is averaging nine points and 6.6 rebounds in 27 games (26 starts) for the Bruins.

How can I watch the NCAA Tournament games?

Every game of the men’s tournament will air on either CBS-2, TBS, TNT or TruTV and their digital platforms, including Paramount+. TBS will broadcast the Final Four and national title game this year. The NCAA also is streaming games via its March Madness Live option.

Every game of the women’s tournament will air on ESPN’s networks and streaming services, with select games on ABC-7. While ESPN will show the Final Four, the title game will be back on ABC-7 just like last season.