The first full day of the men’s NCAA Tournament begins Thursday with 16 games in the Round of 64 slate. The First Four games on Tuesday and Wednesday technically started the tournament, with No. 11 Pittsburgh, No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson and No. 11 Arizona State advancing to the first round.
The first game Thursday started at 12:15 p.m. ET between No. 9 West Virginia and No. 8 Maryland (CBS), and the action won’t stop until around midnight with No. 15 UNC Asheville and No. 2 UCLA tipping off at 10:05 p.m. ET (truTV).
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Virginia in a battle with Furman
The Cavaliers have led by as much as 10 over Furman, but the Paladins are keeping it close and trail 32-27 at halftime, despite shooting only 34 percent, including 4-14 from 3-point range. They are also being outrebounded by eight.
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Reece Beekman is pacing the Cavaliers with 10 points and four rebounds and Jalen Swanson leads Furman with eight. Leading scorer Mike Bothwell, who averages 18 points a game, has five points, but also has three personal fouls.
Maryland leading West Virginia at halftime
The Terrapins found themselves down 13 points early against the Mountaineers but closed strong to take a 32-30 halftime lead. Jahmir Young and Hakim Hart led a balanced Maryland attack with seven points each, while Kedrian Johnson of West Virginia leads all scorers with 10. Maryland is shooting 58 percent from the field.
First two tournament games underway
The first games of March Madness are underway as a pair of South Region games kick off the action.
West Virginia and Maryland are going back in forth in their 8-9 matchup in Birmingham, Alabama as the first half winds down, while the first game in Orlando pits No. 4 seed Virginia and No. 13 seed Furman.
Bill Self will not coach Kansas’ first-round game
Kansas coach Bill Self will not be on the sideline when the top-ranked Jayhawks take on No. 16 seed Howard on Thursday.
Norm Roberts will continue to serve as acting head coach in place of Self, who is considered day to day.
Self returned to practice this week after being discharged from the University of Kansas Health System, where he had two stents inserted to treat blocked arteries in his heart.
Kansas takes on Howard at 2 p.m. ET.
Five potential NCAA Tournament first-round upsets
It’s hard to pay attention to every team in college basketball throughout the long season that started way back in November, when everybody was still focused on football. And, even when the gridiron action is done, the hardwood teams from big-name conferences snag most of the marquee TV slots. So a lot of you might not know about these so-called mid majors that are about to swoop in and grab their share of the spotlight, if only for a few days, or even the occasional power conference team that limps in as a double-digit seed but hits its stride at the right time. We’re here to help. Here are five candidates to consider strongly to pull off a first-round upset.
— Eddie Timanus
How to watch NCAA Tournament first-round games
Whether it’s at home, at a bar or at work, millions of Americans will be tuning in to watch teams make or break their bracket.
CBS and Turner Sports have the broadcasting rights to the men’s NCAA Tournament and broadcast games on four channels. Three of them – CBS, TNT and TBS – you may know from broadcasting dozens of other sporting events each year, but the remaining channel, truTV, is one that always eludes basketball fans each year.
Here’s where to find TruTV, depending on your cable provider or streaming service, and what games will be on the network:
What channel is truTV?
TruTV can be found on several cable providers, and has the same channel number nationwide on some of the providers. Here are the channels:
AT&T U-Verse: 164/1164
Cox: Varies by location
Spectrum: Varies by location
Xfinity: Varies by location
For streaming, truTV is also available on: YouTube TV, iOS App Store, Google Play, Amazon App Store, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Android TV.
Which March Madness games will be on truTV?
Eight games will be broadcast on truTV in the first rounds of March Madness. Here are the games that will be on truTV, as well as tip-off times (in ET):
- No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 Furman (Thursday, 12:40 p.m.)
- No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 12 College of Charleston (Thursday, 3:10 p.m.)
- No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Boise State (Thursday, 7:35 p.m.)
- No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 UNC Asheville (Thursday, 10:05 p.m.)
- No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Kennesaw State (Friday, 12:40 p.m.)
- No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Pittsburgh (Friday, 3:10 p.m.)
- No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 14 Grand Canyon (Friday, 7:35 p.m.)
- No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Nevada/No. 11 Arizona State (Friday, 10:05 p.m.)
— Jordan Mendoza
You’ll probably have to trash your bracket
The reality of the NCAA Tournament is that unpredictability and randomness usually trump a perfect script. And this year in particular, we should all spend the next three weeks embracing the idea that our picks are useless and our brackets will likely need to be thrown in the trash.
On paper, this has the potential to be one of the craziest tournaments we’ve ever seen.
Why? Maybe because this has not been a dominant year for the big, traditional brands. Instead, we’ve seen Houston cruise through the American Athletic Conference while barely getting a worthy test from anyone besides Memphis. We’ve seen football schools Alabama and Texas A&M dominate the SEC while Kentucky comes into the tournament looking like an underachiever.
We’ve seen Miami, a team built on veterans and transfers, rise to the top of the ACC while Duke went way under the radar most of the year and North Carolina missed the tournament entirely. And the Big Ten almost felt like a random results generator at times with nine teams finishing within two games of each other in the standings behind Purdue, which ran off with the conference title.
— Dan Wolken
Final USA TODAY Sports coaches poll
Houston enters the NCAA Tournament with the No. 1 ranking in the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll, despite its loss in the American Athletic Conference championship game just prior to the unveiling of the brackets on Sunday.
The Cougars, who were playing without leading scorer Marcus Sasser in the loss to Memphis, retained 21 of 32 No. 1 votes to stave off second-ranked Alabama. The Crimson Tide received eight firsts after winning the SEC title in impressive fashion on Sunday.
— Eddie Timanus
Alabama clear favorite in South Region
The South Region is loaded. It begins at the top with the overall highest seed, but if Alabama is to make its first Final Four in program history, it will have to navigate a bracket filled with lots of accomplished programs, including four programs with national championship banners hanging in their home arenas.
Two of the three most recent NCAA champs are here, Baylor and Virginia. Arizona, a powerhouse of the ‘90’s, is back in the title hunt. Then there’s Maryland, which cut down the nets early this century and is hoping to make noise as one of the Big Ten’s numerous representatives in the field.
— Eddie Timanus
Defending champion Kansas leads West Region
Good news for the Jayhawks – they wouldn’t have to play Texas again until the Final Four. Even better news – Kansas head coach Bill Self is expected to rejoin the team. He was discharged Sunday from the hospital, where he checked in last week with chest tightness and balance problems. According to doctors, Self had two stents placed in order to treat blocked arteries in his heart.
The No. 2 seed, UCLA, enters the tournament with injury issues. If UCLA hadn’t lost defensive whiz Jaylen Clark to injury in the regular-season finale, there’s a good chance the Bruins would have had a No. 1 seed and a path to the Final Four.
— Josh Peter
Purdue No. 1 in East, but many contenders loom
Purdue is looking to advance to the Final Four for the first time under coach Matt Painter and the first time as a program since 1980. The Boilermakers are built around 7-foot-4 junior center Zach Edey, the favorite for national player of the year.
The East Region doesn’t lack for star power: Purdue is joined by No. 2 Marquette, No. 3 Kansas State and No. 4 Tennessee, followed by No. 5 Duke and No. 6 Kentucky.
— Paul Myerberg
Texas A&M, Penn State have little time to bounce back
How can you not like a regional bracket that – if the seedings hold form – will have Texas meeting Texas A&M in the second round and wind its way to Houston, and Texas playing for a spot in a Final Four being held in Houston?
The best first-round matchup in the Midwest?
The Texas A&M-Penn State game pairs teams that had great runs last weekend and have tremendous guard play; but both played Sunday and have to come back and play Thursday. (It also matches the sartorial splendiferousness of Aggies coach Buzz Williams and his suit vests against the quarter-zip-casual Micah Shrewsberry.)
— Steve Berkowitz
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