The Madness is finally upon us.
The complete NCAA tournament bracket was released on Sunday, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups to keep an eye on. With the first day of the tournament rapidly approaching, it’s time to plan out how you will watch every game on Thursday and Friday.
All Your Bracket Essentials:
Long gone are the days when fans were stuck watching only one game on CBS, hoping that Greg Gumbel would cut into the No. 1 seed vs. No. 16 seed contest to switch it to the thrilling finish between the No. 5 seed and No. 12 seed.
With that in mind, here is a look at the television broadcast information for the entire first and second round (remember, the first round consists of the first four in Dayton, and the second round is the round of 64).
|NCAA Tournament Television Schedule: First Four|
|3/18||6:40 p.m. ET||No. 16 St. Mary's||No. 16 Albany||TruTV|
|3/18||9:10 p.m. ET||No. 12 Xavier||No. 12 NC State||TruTV|
|3/19||9:10 p.m. ET||No. 11 Iowa||No. 11 Tennessee||TruTV|
|3/19||6:40 p.m. ET||No. 16 Cal Poly||No. 16 Texas Southern||TruTV|
|NCAA Tournament Television Schedule: South Region|
|3/20||30 min. after Colorado vs. Pittsburgh||No. 1 Florida||No. 16 Albany/St. Mary's||TBS|
|3/20||1:40 p.m.||No. 8 Colorado||No. 9 Pittsburgh||TBS|
|3/21||7:27 p.m.||No. 5 VCU||No. 12 Stephen F. Austin||truTV|
|3/21||30 min after VCU vs. Stephen F. Austin||No. 4 UCLA||No. 13 Tulsa||truTV|
|3/21||30 min after New Mexico vs. Stanford||No. 2 Kansas||No. 15 Eastern Kentucky||TBS|
|3/21||1:40 p.m.||No. 7 New Mexico||No. 10 Stanford||TBS|
|3/20||30 min after Ohio State vs. Dayton||No. 3 Syracuse||No. 14 Western Michigan||CBS|
|3/20||12:15 p.m.||No. 6 Ohio State||No. 11 Dayton||CBS|
|NCAA Tournament Television Schedule: East Region|
|3/21||30 min after Memphis vs. George Washington||No. 1 Virginia||No. 16 Coastal Carolina||TBS|
|3/21||6:55 p.m.||No. 8 Memphis||No. 9 George Washington||TBS|
|3/20||2:10 p.m.||No. 5 Cincinnati||No. 12 Harvard||TNT|
|3/20||30 min after Cincinnati vs. Harvard||No. 4 Michigan State||No. 13 Delaware||TNT|
|3/20||30 min after Connecticut vs. Saint Joseph's||No. 2 Villanova||No. 15 Milwaukee||TBS|
|3/20||6:55 p.m.||No. 7 Connecticut||No. 10 Saint Joseph's||TBS|
|3/21||30 min after North Carolina vs. Providence||No. 3 Iowa State||No. 14 NC Central||TNT|
|3/21||7:20 p.m.||No. 6 North Carolina||No. 11 Providence||TNT|
|NCAA Tournament Television Schedule: West Region|
|3/21||2:10||No. 1 Arizona||No. 16 Weber State||TNT|
|3/21||30 min after Arizona vs. Weber State||No. 8 Gonzaga||No. 9 Oklahoma State||TNT|
|3/20||7:27 p.m.||No. 5 Oklahoma||No. 12 North Dakota State||truTV|
|3/20||30 min after Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State||No. 4 San Diego State||No. 13 New Mexico State||truTV|
|3/20||12:40 p.m.||No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 15 American||truTV|
|3/20||30 min after Wisconsin vs. BYU||No. 7 Oregon||No. 10 BYU||truTV|
|3/21||30 min after Baylor vs. Nebraska||No. 3 Creighton||No. 14 Louisiana||truTV|
|3/21||12:40 p.m.||No. 6 Baylor||No. 11 Nebraska||truTV|
|NCAA Tournament Television Schedule: Midwest Region|
|3/21||7:10 p.m.||No. 1 Wichita State||No. 16 Cal Poly/No. 16 Texas Southern||CBS|
|3/21||30 min after Wichita State vs. Cal Poly/Texas Southern||No. 8 Kentucky||No. 9 Kansas State||CBS|
|3/20||7:20 p.m.||No. 5 Saint Louis||No. 12 NC State/No. 12 Xavier||TNT|
|3/20||30 min after Saint Louis vs. NC State/Xavier||No. 4 Louisville||No. 13 Manhattan||TNT|
|3/20||7:10 p.m.||No. 2 Michigan||No. 15 Wofford||CBS|
|3/20||30 min after Michigan vs. Wofford||No. 7 Texas||No. 10 Arizona State||CBS|
|3/21||12:15 p.m.||No. 3 Duke||No. 14 Mercer||CBS|
|3/21||30 min after Duke vs. Mercer||No. 6 Massachusetts||No. 11 Iowa/No. 11 Tennessee||CBS|
Now that we know what the schedule looks like, let’s dig into a few of the many storylines in the NCAA tournament.
Wichita State’s Pursuit of Perfection
Regardless of the strength of the Missouri Valley Conference, the fact that Wichita State finished the season 34-0 is incredible.
The Shockers had a target on their back every time they stepped on the floor and still delivered. They tallied victories over the likes of Saint Louis, Tennessee and BYU, among others, and will try to become the first team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers to run the table through the tournament.
Commentators and fans have argued about the merits of Wichita State’s undefeated mark all year, but guard Fred VanVleet said his team isn’t worried about that, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
You can debate what you want to debate. Facts are facts, truth is truth. We're not into debating how good or great we are or how bad somebody else…That's for barber shop talk and coffee table arguments. We're not into that stuff. If they feel that way, it's on them. And nobody that's arguing about it is on the selection committee.
Now the Shockers have a chance to prove their worth once and for all in the NCAA tournament.
No. 12 vs. No. 5 seeds
If you want to pick an upset on your bracket, it’s worth looking at the No. 5 vs. No. 12 matchups, if recent history is any indication.
In just the past two NCAA tournaments alone, five of the eight No. 12 seeds knocked off the No. 5 seeds. In 2013, Mississippi beat Wisconsin, California beat UNLV and Oregon beat Oklahoma State.
This year’s No. 5 vs. No. 12 games are No. 5 VCU vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin, No. 5 Cincinnati vs. No. 12 Harvard, No. 5 Saint Louis vs. No. 12 Xavier/No. 12 North Carolina State and No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 North Dakota State.
Focusing on the strength of Harvard and the winner of the Xavier and North Carolina State game in particular, don’t be surprised if multiple No. 12 seeds emerge victorious.
Who Will Be This Year’s Cinderella?
Perhaps the best part of the NCAA tournament is the emergence of at least one Cinderella story.
Last year, the country fell in love with Florida Gulf Coast on its run to the Sweet 16. In past seasons, the likes of Butler, VCU and George Mason stunned the college basketball world by making it all the way to the Final Four.
Butler was inches away from knocking off Duke on the final shot in the 2010 national championship game.
Looking forward, there will undoubtedly be at least one Cinderella story in this year’s NCAA tournament, if not more.
College basketball was filled with parity this season. We didn't know who the fourth No. 1 seed would be until the actual selection show because of the attrition that hit the top of the polls.
There were so many upsets in the regular season that it would actually be an upset if that trend didn't continue in the tournament.
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