Early Afternoon Games:
Tip-off: 12:15pm (all times Eastern), CBS (Marv Albert/Chris Webber/Len Elmore/Craig Sager)
Tip-off: 12:40pm, TruTV (Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson)
Tip-off: 1:40pm, TBS (Spero Dedes/Mike Gminski/Jaime Maggio)
Tip-off: 2:10pm, TNT (Ian Eagle/Doug Gottlieb/Evan Washburn)
Game to Watch: West Virginia vs. Buffalo
Here we have two teams that are among the top 25 in tempo, so if you want to see teams get up and down the court, this is your match-up. West Virginia has struggled recently, losing 3 of its last 4. They are supposed to get guard Juwan Staten back, but will he be able to jump right back into the starting lineup ready to go?
Then there is Bobby Hurley's Buffalo Bulls, MAC champions. The Bulls are barely outside of KenPom's top 50, among the likes of at-large selections Purdue, Indiana, Oregon, and St. John's. If you were a 5 seed, would you really want to see any of those teams? They play at a very fast pace but somehow don't turn the ball over, actually touting one of the lowest turnover percentages in the country.
The Mountaineers, a top 5 rebounding team in the nation, are likely going to beat up the Bulls on the boards. But Buffalo is quite a bit more efficient scoring the ball and can certainly win the turnover battle. A game like this featuring fast-paced teams with contrasting strengths and weaknesses and such enticing upset potential is just a must-watch NCAA tournament game.
Late Afternoon Games:
Tip-off: 2:45pm (approximate), CBS (Marv Albert/Chris Webber/Len Elmore/Craig Sager)
Tip-off: 3:10pm (approximate), TruTV (Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson)
Tip-off: 4:10pm (approximate), TBS (Spero Dedes/Mike Gminski/Jaime Maggio)
Tip-off: 4:40pm (approximate), TNT (Ian Eagle/Doug Gottlieb/Evan Washburn)
Game to Watch: Maryland vs. Valparaiso
Staying in the Midwest, this one just has upset written all over it. Maryland, rated by KenPom as the 2nd luckiest team in the nation this season, has largely skated by against the bottom half of the B1G over the last month or so, and not in particularly impressive fashion, with a series of narrow wins over the likes of Nebraska, Penn State, and Indiana. Enter Valpo, by far the highest ranked 13 seed in the tournament and one of the best rebounding teams in the country on both ends of the court.
Facing off against a team that is not particularly impressive on the boards could be that type of advantage that gets Cinderella going in this one. Add in the fact that both of these teams are in the top 40 in defensive efficiency, and it's easy to imagine this one being close well into the second half. Let's also not forget that the Crusaders are coached by Bryce Drew, who knows a thing or two about NCAA tournament upsets and has a guy in Alec Peters who has breakout star potential. I think the turtles have plenty to fear in this one.
Early Evening Games:
Tip-off: 6:50pm, TBS (Marv Albert/Chris Webber/Len Elmore/Craig Sager)
Tip-off: 7:10pm, CBS (Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson)
Tip-off: 7:20pm, TNT (Spero Dedes/Mike Gminski/Jaime Maggio)
Tip-off: 7:27pm, TruTV (Ian Eagle/Doug Gottlieb/Evan Washburn)
Game to Watch: Iowa vs. Davidson
Offense, offense, offense. Not enough of it in college basketball these days, but that won't be a problem in this one. Davidson is one of the ten most efficient and highest-scoring offenses in the country, and they didn't even have one of their best players, Jack Gibbs, for nearly a month of their conference season. That the Wildcats, behind head coach Bob McKillop, won the Atlantic-10 in its first season making the big jump from the Southern Conference is one of the most impressive accomplishments in the country.
Then you have Iowa, who isn't terribly efficient and has certainly taken a step back offensively compared to last season, but rebounds it really well despite not having any dominant post players and does not turn the ball over. The Hawkeyes, behind leading scorer Aaron White, were really heating up until they got blindsided by an upstart Penn State team in the B1G Tournament. Still, I get the sense that Iowa is the type of team that can run the track meet that Davidson will force them into and compete offensively. I see this game being a fun one with scores that might creep into the 80s.
Late Evening Games:
Tip-off: 9:20pm (approximate), TBS (Marv Albert/Chris Webber/Len Elmore/Craig Sager)
Tip-off: 9:40pm (approximate), CBS (Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson)
Tip-off: 9:50pm (approximate), TNT (Spero Dedes/Mike Gminski/Jaime Maggio)
Tip-off: 9:57pm (approximate), TruTV (Ian Eagle/Doug Gottlieb/Evan Washburn)
Game to Watch: Providence vs. Dayton
Providence has one of the best duos in the country in Big East's leading scorer LaDontae Henton (who poured in 38 on the Irish back in November) and likely lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft, Kris Dunn. These two should be enough to get you to tune in, especially with this being the last game in the Round of 64 and 2 of the other 3 simultaneous games likely going to be walkovers.
They will take on last year's tournament darling Dayton who just happens to be playing this game an hour away from their campus in Columbus. In what will practically be a home game, can the Flyers and Archie Miller's very small lineup challenge the Friars and continue to impress in March, even if coming off just two days' rest in a close play-in win over Boise State? The lone negative of March Madness is that it mostly lacks in raucous crowds, but this one will likely be an exception. Could be a fun one to close out the Round of 64.