How many teams are in March Madness?

Penn State men's basketball is unlikely to make the 68-team March Madness field in 2024. However, the women have a shot at an at-large bid.

Florida Atlantic v Charlotte
Florida Atlantic v Charlotte / Isaiah Vazquez/GettyImages

Penn State men’s basketball’s slow start in Big Ten play dispelled any hopeful notions that the team might make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances after a coaching change in the offseason. Still, this time last year it seemed unlikely that Micah Shrewsberry would lead his team to the big dance before Jalen Pickett led the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten tournament final and an at-large bid into the 68-team NCAA Tournament field. 

The 32 conference champions qualify for the NCAA Tournament and then the NCAA DI men’s basketball committee selects the 36 best at-large teams from the country to fill out the rest of the 68-team field. Eight teams begin the tournament in Dayton as part of the first four, where the winners of those four games qualify for the Round of 64. 

Penn State has been effectively eliminated from at-large contention, so the Nittany Lions would need to shock the Big Ten by winning the conference tournament to steal a bid into March Madness. Penn State has only qualified for the tournament three times this century and 10 times in its 128 men’s basketball seasons. 

The women’s tournament is filled out the same way with a 68-team field, one that Penn State is likely to be a part of. The Penn State women have been hovering around .500 in the Big Ten, but that is enough for ESPN’s Charlie Creme to project the Nittany Lions to secure a 10-seed. 

The Penn State women have not qualified for the NCAA tournament since the program made four consecutive appearances from 2011-14. Head coach Carolyn Kieger is in her fifth year and with a 16-9 record heading and only a month left to play, will almost certainly secure her first winning season in Happy Valley.

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