Your Day One NCAA Tournament Preview


Alright, you ready for some fun? This is actually about to go down today, so whether you’re on the fence about punting on your contribution to America’s economy and sitting on the couch all day, or just unsure when you must be in front of the TV, I’ve broken down the real day one of the 2011 NCAA Tournament for you.

From Kentucky to Kemba, Commodores to Monarchs, and a pair of Bruins – all you really need to know to schedule your day is below. Enjoy the drama, embrace the madness.

The “Skipping Class, Not Working Today” Session

  • Best Game: #13 Morehead State vs. #4 Louisville (1:40 EST; TBS) – It’s the sport’s most accomplished rebounder against a rugged and active Big East club.  If the Eagles are able to hang with the Cards, Kenneth Faried must exceed his 14.5 rebounds per game, and hope that a good chunk of them come on the offensive end. His team is only a 34 percent three-point shooting team, so it will need those second chance points to keep this close.
  • Lamest Game: #10 Penn State vs. #7 Temple (2:10; TNT) – Sure it’s some sort of Keystone State battle, but expect a low-scoring 40-minute grind. The Nittany Lions Talor Battle does have a flair for the dramatics, so wait to check in this one with just a few minutes remain.
  • Also check out: #9 Old Dominion vs. #8 Butler (12:40; truTV)- A friend told me yesterday that he was 65 percent certain the Monarchs would beat Pitt in round two. I’m not sure what that really means, but I do know that there is a zero percent chance of this happening if they can’t knock off last year’s national runners up. We get a great BracketBuster Weekend game here in mid-March.

The “Ducking Out Early…It’s St. Patrick’s Day!” Session

  • Best Game: #12 Richmond vs. #5 Vanderbilt (4:10 TBS) – Vanderbilt has fallen victim to the 4/5 seed upset for the past two tournaments, but this may be the year they flip the script on us. The Spiders are successful when their backcourt is hitting, but the Commodores John Jenkins is the can’t miss player of this game. He’s made five or more threes nine different times this season, and could single-handedly get his team to the next round.
  • Lamest Game(s): #16 UNC-Asheville vs. #1 Pittsburgh (3:10; truTV); #15 Northern Colorado vs. #2 San Diego State (4:40 TNT) –  Lopsided and non-threatening. Go run out and grab a sixer of your favorite Irish inspired adult beverage, you won’t need to keep tabs on these opening round match-ups.
  • Also check out: #13 Princeton vs. #4 Kentucky (2:45; CBS) – Big Blue Nation travels better than any fan base in the country, so expect as electric an atmosphere that an afternoon first round game can provide.

The “Over a Hungry Man TV Dinner” Session

  • Best Game (of the entire day) – #13 Belmont vs. #4 Wisconsin (7:27; truTV) – The sexiest Cinderella right now is the Bruins, so I’m not quite sure why this game has been relegated to an obscure cable outpost. With so many Belmont players expected to get run (11 average 10 minutes or more a game), head coach Rick Byrd will force the Badgers into a sprint, with quick hits and lots of shot attempts.
  • Lamest Game – #15 UCSB vs. #2 Florida (6:50; TBS) – The Gauchos underwhelmed this regular season, but managed to win the Big West and return to the tournament. Had they had a bit better showing than their 8-8 conference record, they may not have been stuck in this situation.
  • Also Check Out – Jimmer and Kemba  – Shame on the NCAA for scheduling the game’s two most captivating players, Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker, at the same time. Be sure to give a look over to CBS and TNT during this session to get a preview of  what could be the source of some excellent theater heading into the subsequent rounds.

The “Night Cap”

With the most eyes fixated on TVs, the NCAA will treat us to what should be four excellent match-ups, all with upset potential and rapid channel surfing before we either head to bed or head out for the evening.

Many are hoping Michigan State can discover that magic once again, but it could be all for naught if UCLA (9:20; TBS) can control the boards and force the Spartans into bad shots. Meanwhile, another preseason top three team looks to rectify a bumpy season, as Kansas State squares off against Utah State (9:57; truTV). You also get a DJ Kennedy-less St. John’s club against Gonzaga (9:45; CBS) and Missouri – Cincinnati (9:50; TNT), a game where the No. 11 Tigers are only getting a single point from Vegas. Sounds about even to me.