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March Madness: Take Me Dancing Tonight

Basketball

The GIST: It’s been two years, but the day has finally come: March Madness is here. Men’s action begins later today with the “First Four” round, but COVID-19 has already made an appearance in the Indy bubble…

March 18, 2021
Source: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Source: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

First Four: The “First Four” play-in round features eight teams (the four lowest seeded automatic qualifiers and at-large bids) competing in four games for the final spots in the overall 64-team men’s tournament bracket. 

  • UCLA will take on Michigan State today at 9:57 p.m. ET in a First Four matchup you definitely don’t want to miss. UCLA has the most-ever national titles while Michigan State is making their 23rd consecutive tourney appearance. Can’t wait.

COVID-19: While teams impacted by COVID-19 during last week’s conference tourneys are thankfully returning negative tests, there’s a new group to worry about: referees. Six refs were removed from the bubble after one tested positive following a group dinner out on the town. *facepalm* Hey guys, you’re really not helping your own cause here.

Women’s tourney: Keep an eye out for this Sunday’s newsletter where we’ll have a full women’s March Madness breakdown before that afternoon’s tip-off. In the meantime, we have to talk about a major end-of-season honor.

  • The AP All-America team was announced yesterday, and Paige Bueckers (pronounced BECKERS) is just the third (!!!) freshman to receive the honor. The other two? 2018 WNBA champion Courtney Paris and WNBA legend Maya Moore. Decent company.
  • Rounding out the list are Louisville’s Dana Evans, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard and Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith, who will all be on the hunt for some team hardware heading into the tourney.