March Madness Survival Guide

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Today is the day.

Right up there with St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, The Kentucky Derby, and the Superbowl, the first Thursday of March Madness is one of the best five days on the calendar.

Because today carries such weight, such great importance, we cannot take it lightly. We must be prepared.

Pre-game Instructions:
There are two schools of though regarding Thursday viewing. Both require you to skip work. But you should have already taken care of this.

Seriously, skip work. Fake an illness if you have to. Hell, actually get sick. This is not a day you want to spend to spend at the office.

Anyways, some people will choose to spend the day at a sports bar, surrounded by friends, food & drink and dozens of TVs. This is not a bad option for the casual fan. The atmosphere of a sports bar on the first Thursday goes virtually unrivaled, and provides for an exciting day of entertainment and revelry.

But the sports bar is often littered with distractions that could keep you from maximizing your viewing intake. While hanging out with your friends, chowing down on burgers and interacting with the random Northwestern State fan is fun, it’s not the most efficient means of viewing.

The real fan will instead find an abode within local proximity. Maybe it’s your own, maybe it’s your friends’, or perhaps it’s the empty home down the street being remodeled. Just make sure it has a large HDTV screen, comfortable viewing seats, and plenty of space for extra monitors, platters of food and cold beverages. These intimate viewing stations should never exceed five people, and should be located somewhere away from the sun, domesticated animals and significant others.

The Setup:
– Flat screen HDTV w/ surround sound (at least 36″)
– Auxiliary television (preferably 22″ or larger. HD recommended)
– Laptop
– External Monitor
– Smart phone w/ March Madness on Demand app
– iPad or Tablet (not necessary, but recommended)
– La-Z-Boy recliner or similar armchair (large couches will suffice, but only with a maximum capacity of two people)
– Coffee table large enough to hold laptop, large pizza, nacho platter and buffalo wings

Food & Beverage
If you are going to prepare food, make sure it’s ready to go well in advance of the first tip-off (12:15 p.m. est) Personally, I’d recommend ordering food. It’s easy and time-efficient. Yes, your buddies may criticize you if you order sushi, but at least you won’t miss any game time, and that’s the key. You know there’s a guy out there somewhere who missed the Bryce Drew shot because he was checking on his jalapeno poppers. Don’t become this guy.

Adult beverages should be handled with caution. Remember, today is a marathon, not a sprint. Not managing your intake will result in a serious case of “The ‘Itis”. This is not Thanksgiving. This is March Madness. There is no time for a mid-afternoon nap. You can sleep in April.

The Schedule
With Turner’s decision to stagger-start the games throughout the day, there is no real “dead period”. But trust us, this is a good thing. Old tournament formats would subject the viewer to two hours of local news. We want Madness, not weather traffic updates.

But still, the 5-7 p.m. block of time is when the least amount of action takes place, so if you really need to do something important, like say, picking your son up from lacrosse practice, this is probably when you should take care of that. But if there was ever a time to let your kid figure out how to get home by himself, it’s today. Tell him it’s a character-building exercise.

But seriously, there’s not a lot of time to do any non-March Madness activities.

Thursday Schedule:
12:15 p.m. – Valparaiso (14) vs. Michigan State (3) – CBS
12:40 p.m. – Bucknell (11) vs. Butler (6) – Tru TV
1:40 p.m. – Wichita State (9) vs. Pittsburgh (8)- TBS
2:10 p.m. – New Mexico State (13) vs. Saint Louis (4) – TNT
2:45 p.m. – Saint Mary’s (11) vs. Memphis (6) – CBS
3:10 p.m. – Davidson (14) vs. Marquette (3) – tru TV
4:10 p.m. – Southern (16) vs. Gonzaga (1) – TBS
4:40 p.m. – Oregon (12) vs. Oklahoma State (5) – TNT
6:50 p.m. – North Carolina A&T (16) vs. Louisville (1) – TBS
7:15 p.m. – South Dakota State (13) vs. Michigan (4) – CBS
7:20 p.m. – Belmont (11) vs. Arizona (6) – TNT
7:27 p.m. – California (12) vs. UNLV (5) – Tru TV
9:20 p.m. – Missouri (9) vs. VCU (5) – CBS
9:45 p.m. – Akron (12) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (5) – CBS
9:50 p.m. – Harvard (14) vs. New Mexico (3) – TNT
9:57 p.m. – Montana (13) vs. Syracuse (4) – Tru TV

If you find yourself struggling to make it through Day 1, reach out to @TroyMachir on Twitter, and he will provide you with all the necessary on-the-go survival tips.

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

CBT Fancast: Catching up with famous Final Four fans: Adam Morrison, Marcus Paige, Neil Everett

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For today’s episode, I spoke with the famous fans of the programs in the Final Four, from the greatest player in Gonzaga history to the almost-star of last year’s Final Four to the most famous dual Gonzaga and Oregon fan in the world.

Sindarius Thornwell misses practice on Thursday

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Sindarius Thornwell has been the best player in the NCAA tournament to date, yet he was not in the building on Thursday when the South Carolina Gamecocks practiced and he was nowhere to be found during South Carolina’s media availability.

A school spokeswoman told reporters that Thornwell was back at the hotel, that he was sick and resting.

Thornwell is averaging 25.7 points in four games in the NCAA tournament. He’s been sensational. If he’s not at his best this weekend, that’s a massive blow for South Carolina’s chances of getting to a national title game, but South Carolina head coach Frank Martin doesn’t seem too concerned.

“I’ve got a bug myself. Luckily I don’t have to play,” Martin said. “He had a little body temperature last night when we landed. And he was a little better this morning. But I kind of told our trainer, just feed him fluids, do what doctors do and let him rest rather than stress him right now. He’s our most intelligent player. And I don’t mean to say that demeaning the other guys. He understands basketball at a high, high level, he doesn’t need to be on the practice court to understand what we’re doing.”