After a two-year wait, Friday will be the start of the best four days of the year: the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
The first-round action gets underway on Friday, instead of the usual Thursday. This is due to COVID-19 protocols, as all teams must quarantine and stay in Indianapolis. With this, the First Four will all be played on Thursday night in Indiana instead of the usual Tuesday and Wednesday night action in Dayton.
A couple of hours after the full bracket was revealed, the NCAA announced the full schedule for the First Round, beginning with Friday’s slate.
The action will begin at 12:15 p.m. ET between Virginia Tech and Florida on CBS. Colgate will tip-off mid-major action at 12:45 p.m. on truTV against Arkansas. That game is expected to be a high-scoring, up-tempo contest. At the moment, it has the highest gambling total at an over/under of 157.5.
Other mid-majors in action during the early slate include Drexel, which is making its first tournament appearance in 25 years, Hartford, which is making its first-ever appearance, and Loyola Chicago, which made the Final Four in 2018. Cinderella Oregon State will close off the afternoon with a 4:30 p.m. tip against Tennessee. Oregon State was picked last in the Pac-12 preseason poll and won the conference tournament.
The night slate begins with a popular upset pick in Liberty, facing Oklahoma State at 6:25 p.m. on TBS. Liberty’s style of play is a pain for anyone, especially a young team like Oklahoma State and Cade Cunningham. The night slate will end with another popular upset pick in Winthrop against Villanova. That game is scheduled to begin at 9:57 p.m. on TBS. Winthrop’s size and depth could be a huge mismatch for an injured Wildcats team.
Other mid-majors in action during the later slate include Cleveland State, which has never lost a round of 64 game, North Texas, which had its tournament bid stripped away last season due to the pandemic, and Morehead State, making its first appearance since upsetting Louisville in 2011.
All these games will be played within the state of Indiana, including at Lucas Oil Stadium, which has two courts.
After these games, the action will pick up Saturday afternoon and continue through Monday. The winners of Friday’s action will play on Sunday.
Here is the full list of matchups, tip times, networks, and broadcaster pairings. All games can also be streamed on March Madness Live.
There it is. Now you can count down the minutes until we finally get back to NCAA Tournament games and the most exciting weekend in sports.
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