March Madness has begun!
Well, not officially, but the 2013 NCAA tournament bracket has been released (you can get a live look throughout the tournament here) and the 68-team field is set for what's sure to be an exciting three-week sprint that will decide college basketball's 2012-13 champion.
The TV schedule, dates and times for the games have already been pinned down by CBS and Turner Sports, which will broadcast the event over four different networks from March 19 through April 8.
We already know that teams are preparing for opponents and getting game plans together for what should be four exciting days of the first and second round. That being said, we can also start looking at which games are must-see-TV from Tuesday to Friday.
For a printable PDF version of the 2013 bracket, click here.
2013 NCAA Tournament First and Second-Round Schedule
Note: Times and networks subject to trade/change. Information on matchups via The Washington Post.
|Mar. 19||(16) NC A&T vs. (16) Liberty||6:40||truTV|
|Mar. 19||(11)Mid. Tennessee St. vs. (11) Saint Mary's||9:10||truTV|
|Mar. 20||(16) LIU-Brooklyn vs. (16) James Madison||6:40||truTV|
|Mar. 20||(13) Boise St. vs. (13) La Salle||9:10||truTV|
|Mar. 21||(13) Valparaiso vs. (4) Michigan St.||12:15||CBS|
|Mar. 21||(11) Bucknell vs. (6) Butler||12:40||truTV|
|Mar. 21||(9) Wichita St. vs. (8) Pittsburgh||1:40||TBS|
|Mar. 21||(13) New Mexico St. vs. (4) Saint Louis||2:10||TNT|
|Mar. 21||(6) Memphis vs. (11) MTSU/SMU||2:45||CBS|
|Mar. 21||(14) Davidson vs. (3) Marquette||3:10||truTV|
|Mar. 21||(16) Southern vs. (1) Gonzaga||4:10||TBS|
|Mar. 21||(12) Oregon vs. (5) Oklahoma St.||4:40||TNT|
|Mar. 21||(16) NC A&T/Lib. vs. (1) Louisville||6:50||TBS|
|Mar. 21||(13) South Dakota St. vs (4) Michigan||7:15||CBS|
|Mar. 21||(11) Belmont vs. (6) Arizona||7:20||TNT|
|Mar. 21||(12) California vs. (5) UNLV||7:27||truTV|
|Mar. 21||(9) Missouri vs. (8) Colorado St.||9:20||TBS|
|Mar. 21||(12) Akron vs. (5) VCU||9:45||CBS|
|Mar. 21||(14) Harvard vs. (3) New Mexico||9:50||TNT|
|Mar. 21||(13) Montana vs. (4) Syracuse||9:57||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(15) Albany (NY) vs. (2) Duke||12:15||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(12) Ole Miss vs. (5) Wisconsin||12:40||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(9) Temple vs. (8) North Carolina St.||1:40||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(15) Pacific vs. (2) Miami (FL)||2:10||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(10) Cincinnati vs. (7) Creighton||2:45||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(13) BSU/La Salle vs. (4) Kansas St.||3:10||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(16) LIU-Brooklyn/JMU vs. (1) Indiana||4:10||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(10) Colorado vs. (7) Illinois||4:45||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(15) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (2) Georgetown||6:50||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(15) Iona vs. (2) Ohio State||7:15||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(9) Villanova vs. (8) North Carolina||7:20||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(14) Northwestern St. vs. (3) Florida||7:27||truTV|
|Mar. 22||(10) Oklahoma vs. (7) San Diego St.||9:20||TBS|
|Mar. 22||(10) Iowa State vs. (7) Notre Dame||9:45||CBS|
|Mar. 22||(16) W. Kentucky vs. (1) Kansas||9:50||TNT|
|Mar. 22||(11) Minnesota vs. (6) UCLA||9:57||truTV|
Games With Most Intrigue
(13) South Dakota State vs. (4) Michigan
We all know about Glenn Robinson III, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke, but we will also soon know about Jackrabbits guard Nate Wolters.
Wolters averages over 22 points a game for a very interesting South Dakota State team, one that has tournament experience after losing to Baylor last season in the first round of the 2012 Big Dance and is hungry to prove both appearances are no fluke.
Can Michigan stay focused enough to avoid a first-round upset? It has plenty of big games under its belt after a successful season in the Big Ten, but late losses have clouded its tournament projection.
We all know they have the talent, but do the Wolverines have the killer instinct to finish off opponents down the stretch in March? Look for South Dakota State to give us a good indication of what kind of tournament run (if any) the Wolverines can make in March.
Oh, and Wolters vs. Burke should be a great matchup for fans.
(11) Belmont vs. (6) Arizona
The Bruins have been to the tournament five times. Their record is 0-5.
Rick Byrd's team is the new Ohio Valley Conference champion after winning both the East division regular season and the conference tournament title. They also got blown out by Kansas and lost to VCU—the only tournament teams the Bruins did beat were South Dakota State and Middle Tennessee.
Their opponent will be Arizona, a team that got off to an extremely fast start before slowing down in Pac-12 play, losing to UCLA three times.
Will Belmont finally get its first tournament win, or will Arizona regain some of its early-season form and get back on track with a win in the second round?
(9) Wichita State vs. (8) Pittsburgh
Which squad has a better shot to knock off No. 1 Gonzaga in a potential third-round matchup?
The Shockers played second-fiddle to Creighton this season, but their No. 9 seed should tell you that the selection committee believes this team is a dangerous opponent for anyone.
While Pitt didn't win the Big East, Jamie Dixon's team has depth and good guard play, and some feel it would be a huge matchup problem for Gonzaga in the following round.
While the Shockers haven't gained as much notoriety as the Bluejays, the Missouri Valley Conference runners-up have a chance to "shock" the world by knocking off a Big East powerhouse in the second round.
Pittsburgh might have its hands full with a team that has quietly put together an impressive season.
(12) Oregon vs. (5) Oklahoma State
Oregon, which just won the Pac-12 tournament, is a No. 12 seed in the tournament. That means at least 44 teams were rated higher than the Ducks by the selection committee, a shocking number considering that Oregon has had a quality season and comes in at No. 25 in the latest AP Poll.
The draw pits Oregon against Oklahoma State, a team with the talent to make a serious push at the Elite Eight—maybe further. The Cowboys have Big 12 Player of the Year and freshman Marcus Smart to deploy, and will also start Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash.
Honestly, this feels more like a Sweet 16 game than a second-round game.
In any event, both of these teams now have to crank it up to an even higher notch than usual for this kind of setting. Neither wants to go home early, yet both are on the brink of not having any more ball to play this season.
So goes the tournament, and we should be in for an exciting start to March Madness on Tuesday night.
Make your picks for the 2013 NCAA tournament here with the Bracket Challenge Game.