March Madness comes to Dickies Arena – and Fort Worth is ready

Baylor players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Gonzaga 86-70 to win the Bears’ first-ever NCAA men's basketball championship last April in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Fast breaks, slam dunks, last-second shots, thrills and heartbreak – the NCAA Tournament has it all.

And it’s coming to Fort Worth this week as Dickies Arena hosts the first two rounds of the East and Midwest Regions Thursday and Saturday. It’s the first time since 1970 at TCU’s Daniel-Meyer Coliseum that the city has hosted NCAA Tournament games, and the occasion understandably has local folks excited.

“It’s so exciting to think of March Madness in Fort Worth. It’s amazing,” said City Councilman Leonard Firestone, who represents the district that includes Dickies Arena. “It’s a great venue for it, a great city for it. Dickies showcases entertainment so well.”

Thursday’s East Region games will see No. 1 seed and defending national champion Baylor (26-6) from the Big 12 Conference facing No. 16 seed Norfolk State (24-6), champions of the Metro Athletic Conference, at 1 p.m. followed by ninth-seeded Marquette (19-12) from the ASUN Conference meeting No. 8 North Carolina (24-9) from the Atlantic Coast Conference at 3:30 p.m.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

The Midwest Region games on Thursday feature No. 9 Creighton (22-11) from the Big East versus San Diego State (23-8) from the Mountain West at 6:27 p.m. The nightcap will have No. 1 seed and Big 12 champion Kansas (28-6) taking on either Southwestern Athletic Conference champ Texas Southern (18-12) or Southland Conference winner Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (23-11) at 8:57 p.m. Those teams are meeting in a play-in game Tuesday.

Saturday’s game times were yet to be determined at the time of this article. Tickets for all sessions are selling fast, but were still available Monday morning by visiting

“The opportunity to host first- and second-round games in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament right here in Fort Worth is a tremendous honor,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker said. “This is exactly the kind of event that Dickies Arena was built for, and I know March Madness fans are going to love seeing games there and enjoy visiting the surrounding area while they are here.”

The arrival of March Madness in Fort Worth has been in the works since 2016, explained Fort Worth Sports Commission Executive Director Jason Sands. The tournament was secured as part of the NCAA bidding process in a collaborative effort led by Dickies Arena, TCU and Visit Fort Worth.

- Advertisement -

“Hosting events of this caliber was not possible for the City of Fort Worth before Dickies was built,” Sands said. “Dickies has opened up a whole new caliber of events that Fort Worth can host, and the city and our hospitality partners are seeing the return on that investment with every high profile event that we host.”

Fort Worth has hosted the National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships since 2019 and is contracted through 2026. This, along with other events such as the American Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships, the USA Gymnastics US Championships, the USA Wrestling Olympic Trials, Professional Bull Riders World Finals, and the Bassmaster Classic are helping put Fort Worth on the map as an attractive place for big-time sports, Sands noted.

Along with sports, the many attractions at Dickies in 2022 include Paul McCartney performing his first concert in Fort Worth since the mid-1970s, Rod Stewart, Keith Urban, and Chris Stapleton’s All-American Road Show. Also, Disney on Ice and the Harlem Globetrotters have stops scheduled.

But first, college basketball at its highest level is in the spotlight.

- Advertisement -

“Hosting the NCAA Men’s Basketball first and second rounds is a tremendous win for the city and a huge opportunity for our community to shine on one of the biggest sports stages there is,” Sands said. “In addition to the national and international exposure hosting a prestigious event like this brings, the impact to our economy is expected to exceed $6 million and thousands of passionate fans will pour into the city to support their teams as they compete for a national championship.”

Firestone said now is a perfect time for the tournament to come to town.

“We get so many visitors to Fort Worth for the first time, and this is the perfect platform. And there’s no better time for it,” he said. “We’ve got the Northside ready to showcase itself; it’s right next to the Cultural District and downtown. For Dickies to set the stage, that is amazing.”

Parker said this event, along with the many other major events being hosted at Dickies Arena in 2022, is giving residents, especially sports fans, more to love about living in Fort Worth.

“Thanks to the efforts of the teams at TCU, Dickies Arena and the Fort Worth Sports Commission our city is ready to shine on the national stage and show the NCAA athletes, coaches and fans why Fort Worth is a world class sports destination,” Parker said.

March Madness at Dickies Arena

Thursday’s games

East Region

Baylor (26-6) vs. Norfolk State (24-6), 1 p.m.

Marquette (19-12) vs. North Carolina (24-9), 3:30 p.m.

Midwest Region

Creighton (22-11) vs. San Diego State (23-8), 6:27 p.m.

Kansas (28-6) vs. Texas Southern (18-12)/Texas A&M Corpus Christi (23-11) winner, 8:57 p.m.

Saturday’s games

Teams and times to be determined