NCAA Tournament 2011: 10 Must Watch First Round Games
The NCAA tournament is upon us, and for the first time, every single game will be broadcast in its entirety on TV.
Also new this year is a staggered start system, so the average fan can flip to watch the last ten minutes of each game without missing the ending of another game.
With all of this in mind, not every first round game is worth watching, and many will be blowouts that can be ignored. However, there are plenty of great games Thursday and Friday, and these are games you are going to want to watch from the opening tip until the clock hits zero.
Consider this your viewers guide to the 10 must watch games of the first round. Now good luck finding what channel truTV is.
#5 West Virginia vs #12 Clemson
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Day: Thursday Time: 12:15 Channel: CBS
The first round opens up with the classic 5-12 match-up, one that is always ripe for an upset.
Clemson is coming off a short rest after having to play on Tuesday, when they easily took care of UAB 70-52.
Meanwhile, West Virginia has had plenty of time to rest up after the Big East Tournament.
This game pits two of the power conferences against one another, Big East vs ACC, which is always entertaining to watch.
Fans are going to want to dive into March Madness as soon as possible, and the first game will definitely wet their appetite.
#8 Butler vs #9 Old Dominion
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Day: Thursday Time: 12:40 Channel: truTV
If you are more into the smaller conference teams, then there is a great 8-9 match-up to start off the coverage on truTV when Old Dominion takes on Butler.
The Bulldogs were last years runner up, but are no where near that team this year.
Meanwhile, on the other bench will be an Old Dominion team that went 27-6 on the season and gives up the fourth least points per game in all of college basketball.
If your a fan of good defensive basketball then you should flip your clicker over to the Butler-Old Dominion game at 12:40.
#7 Temple vs #10 Penn State
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Day: Thursday Time: 2:10 Channel: TNT
In what may be the best match-up in the entire first round, the Penn State Nittany Lions come in on a roll after reaching the Big Ten championship.
Penn State held then #13 ranked Wisconsin to 33 points during the Big Ten Tournament, and will attempt to that again to Temple.
Temple put together a very good season, only losing three times in conference play. They also have experience taking on better teams like Duke and Georgetown and won't be intimidated by Penn State.
This game will not be the most pretty basketball, but it should be entertaining to watch.
#4 Kentucky vs #13 Princeton
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Day: Thursday Time: 2:45 Channel: CBS
This game is all about history for the Princeton Tigers, who 15 years ago upset #4 seed UCLA as a #13 seed.
Kentucky was really disrespected by the selection committee, and as opposed to getting a higher seed (that they probably deserved), they play a Princeton team that may be better than most people think.
Match-ups like this one are the reason everyone loves to watch the big dance; for the chance to see a small school where basketball is on the back burner to academics have a chance to knock off one of the most storied college basketball programs in history.
If small schools taking on big schools is your thing, then this is the must watch game of the first round.
#7 UCLA vs #10 Michigan State
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Day: Thursday Time: 9:20 Channel: TBS
A lot of people didn't think Michigan State deserved to be in the NCAA tournament, but the selection committee not only thought they deserved to be in, but put them as a 10 seed.
They are taking on a weaker than normal UCLA team, who was absolutely smashed by Oregon the last time they were on the court.
Michigan State is a better team than people think, and Kalin Lucas could carry this team by himself. Great guard play is often what drives a team in the tournament and Michigan State could advance on that alone.
This game features two programs with rare off years, but should still make for great basketball.
#6 St. Johns vs #11 Gonzaga
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Day: Thursday Time: 9:45 Channel: CBS
St Johns had an interesting run in the Big East tournament, when they just barely got by Rutgers on a blown call but then almost went on to beat Syracuse.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga has come on strong to end the year, winning their last nine games. The Bulldogs are normally a consistent contender in the tournament, but are a bit less talented this year.
This wont stop them from giving St. Johns everything they got, and no matter who wins this should be a great game.
Throw in that the game is on CBS, so it is in HD, and this is must watch TV Thursday night.
#5 Kansas State vs. #12 Utah State
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Day: Thursday Time: 9:57 Channel: truTV
I still am not really sure if I understand why Utah State, who lost three games all year, is a #12 seed and Kansas State, who lost 10 games, is a #5 seed.
I understand they play in very different conferences, but still there is very little respect given to Utah State.
Kansas State is ripe for an upset to the Aggies in another classic 5-12 match-up.
The Wildcats lost their first game of the Big 12 Tournament and could make an early exit from the dance.
#8 Michigan vs #9 Tennessee
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Day: Friday Time: 12:40 Channel: truTV
One of the early games Friday is also one of the best games on the Friday slate.
While three one seeds and two two seeds will be playing Friday, there are also some great games
Both of the teams in this 8-9 match-up went .500 in conference play, and will be attempting to prove that they play in the better conference, when they battle each other with a chance to move on to the second round.
Both these teams have had some excellent wins to go along with some head-scratching losses. Because of that, who wins this game will really depend on which team shows up.
#8 George Mason vs #9 Villanova
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Day: Friday Time: 2:10 Channel: TNT
This game is a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions, which George Mason being one of the hottest teams in the nation and Villanova starting to fall apart at the end of the season.
The Wildcats managed to go .500 in a very tough big east conference, and are led by two guards that could carry them far.
The two Coreys, Fisher and Stokes, are their leading scorers and both can beat you from the outside or on the drive.
Meanwhile, George Mason was on the longest win streak in the nation at 16 games before falling to a good VCU team in the CAA tournament.
George Mason may have the ability to play Cinderella again this year, but the Wildcats will be looking to end those chances early on.
#6 Xavier vs #11 Marquette
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Day: Friday Time: 7:27 Channel: truTV
This final game is a match-up that I think is primed for an upset.
Marquette may have been the last team to get in for the Big East, but that is not a knock on Marquette, but rather shows how dominant the Big East has been.
Meanwhile Xavier is good, but is very beatable.
Xavier went 15-2 in conference play, but lost early in the conference tournament and may be lacking confidence when they see the Golden Eagles across the court from them.