The best four days on the sports calendar have arrived.
From Thursday afternoon until Sunday evening, CBS and Turner Sports will televise 48 men’s NCAA tournament games. The opening day isn’t lacking intrigue as the tournament’s top seed overall, Alabama, will begin its embattled campaign amid what will surely be a raucous atmosphere in Birmingham. Fellow No. 1 Kansas is also in action as the Jayhawks start their quest for back-to-back titles while tournament favorite Houston tips off its own run.
Here’s a look at the first day’s slate of games as we tip off March Madness (all times ET).
12:15 p.m. — No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 West Virginia (CBS)
12:40 p.m. — No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 Furman (truTV)
1:40 p.m. — No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Utah State (TNT)
2 p.m. — No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Howard (TBS)
2:45 p.m. — No. 1 Alabama vs. Texas A&M Corpus Christi (CBS)
3:10 p.m. — No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 12 College of Charleston (truTV)
4:10 p.m. — No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 15 Princeton (TNT)
4:30 p.m. — No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Illinois (TBS)
Must-see: Two of the few future NBA lottery picks playing in this year’s NCAA tournament are in Arkansas’ starting five. Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black will try to lead the Razorbacks past always erratic Illinois and set up a potential second-round clash with Kansas. How did Arkansas lose 13 games this season with NBA talent splashed across its roster? A big reason is that the pieces don’t fit together all that well. The Razorbacks don’t have enough shooters to space the floor, which makes half-court offense difficult.
6:50 p.m. — No. 8 Iowa vs. No. 9 Auburn (TNT)
7:10 p.m. — No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Oral Roberts (CBS)
7:25 p.m. — No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Colgate (TBS)
7:35 p.m. — No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Boise State (truTV)
9:20 p.m. — No. 1 Houston vs. No. 16 Northern Kentucky (TNT)
9:40 p.m. — No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Louisiana (CBS)
9:55 p.m. — No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Penn State (TBS)
10:05 p.m. — No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 UNC Asheville (truTV)
Must-see: Duke-Oral Roberts isn’t just the most anticipated game of this window. It might be the marquee game of the first round. An Oral Roberts team that is far better than the 15th-seeded one that made a stunning Sweet 16 run two years ago will take aim at a talent-laden Duke team that is peaking entering March. Max Abmas is back and even more lethal attacking off ball screens. His supporting cast is even stronger this year, headlined by 7-foot-5 pick-and-pop specialist Connor Vanover.
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