While Tuesday and Wednesday's First Four games are nice to see, because it's always nice to watch basketball, they serve as a small appetizer. Just a taste, if you will. But the main course is coming. That main course being Thursday's full 16-game slate of games and the official beginning of March Madness.
16 games over a 12-hour period can be a lot to take in. What game do I watch? What games are going to be close? What games have the highest "Madness" potential? Fear not, I've got you covered.
Most Entertaining Game:
(4) Iowa State vs. (13) Iona -- Midwest Region -- 11:00 am on TBS
Do you like scoring? Do you like an up and down game with lots of shooting? This could be the game for you. Iowa State is known for its breakneck pace and scoring. They rank third in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency and they're led by one of the best scorers in the country, Cyclones senior forward, Georges Niang. He'll be looking to make his mark in his final NCAA Tournament. However, Iona can't be ignored. They have quite the scorer themselves in senior guard, AJ English. English averaged 22.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.2 assists this season and he is far from gun-shy. This is going to be a shootout and, based off Iowa State's short stay in last year's Big Dance, there could even be an upset looming.
Most Likely Upset:
(5) Baylor vs. (12) Yale -- West Region -- 11:45 am on CBS
Speaking of upsets, how about a 5-12 matchup? The Baylor Bears are quite good and have, rightfully so, been talked about as a Sweet Sixteen team and possibly beyond. They were right in the thick of things all year long in what is widely regarded as the toughest conference in America. But the Ivy League Champions might have something to say about that. The Yale Bulldogs are an incredibly tough-minded defensive team that plans to give Baylor fits. One underrated fact -- this game is taking place MUCH closer to Yale's backyard than Baylor's. The Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence might just be a road atmosphere for the Bears. Keep an eye on this one.
The "Everybody Hates Duke" Special:
(4) Duke vs. (13) UNC Wilmington -- West Region -- 9:15 am on CBS
The first game of the day features everybody's favorite Blue Devils taking on the CAA champs, UNC Wilmington. Duke has a very talented team, as per the usual, featuring potential top two pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Brandon Ingram and, of course, the most beloved player in the nation, Grayson Allen. As talented as Duke is, they have a serious lack of depth, sticking to a 6-man rotation most games, occasionally extending it to seven men deep. This will be an issue for the defending national champions at some point and that point could come tomorrow. We've seen Duke lose in the first round as a 2-seed in 2012 and a 3-seed in 2014. It's 2016 and they're a 4-seed. I'm no math wiz but I see a 2-year, 1-seed trend in those numbers. Coincidence? Probably. But it's March and all bets are off.
The Game of the Day:
(6) Arizona vs. (11) Wichita State -- South Region -- 6:20 pm on TNT
This is completely without bias, this is the game to watch. This game has no business being a first round game but, alas, here we are. By now, as a reader of this website, you know about this one. But, make no mistake about it, whether you're a fan of the Arizona Wildcats or not, all eyes will be on this game. These are two teams that can make a serious run in this tournament and one of them is going home on day one.
The Game People On The East Coast Will Stay Up To Watch:
(8) USC vs. (9) Providence -- East Region -- 6:50 pm on TBS
All of the games in the night-cap could have been chosen. I already mentioned Arizona and Wichita State. Seton Hall and Gonzaga will square off at the end of the day and sexy national champion pick, Kentucky, will play Stony Brook. I'm going with USC and Providence because Providence point guard, Kris Dunn, is a sight to behold. And USC guard, Jordan McLaughlin, won't let anyone forget about him. You can bet he's eager to go up against the highly-touted Dunn and prove his worth.
You don't need any other reasons to watch tomorrow. It's March and it's a beautiful, beautiful thing.