What to watch in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s first round.

March 19, 2024
The full hoops hurricane begins with 16 first-round games crammed into a mere 12 hours tomorrow. Here are the ones not to miss...
CollegeBasketball
What to watch in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s first round.
Source: MSU_Basketball/X

The GIST: Half of the First Four matchups are already history (congrats, No. 16 Wagner and No. 10 Colorado State!), and the other half will be decided tonight. Once those are in the books, the hoops hurricane begins, with 16 first-round games crammed into a mere 12 hours tomorrow. Not enough screens? Here are the ones not to miss:

No. 9 Michigan State Spartans (19-14) vs. No. 8 Mississippi State Bulldogs (21-13), 12:15 p.m. ET (CBS): Despite struggles with consistency this season, these two serious squads are capable of deep runs. Mississippi State boasts a fierce defense, while Spartan HC Tom Izzo is a living legend known for orchestrating postseason pushes like no one else.

No. 11 Oregon Ducks (23-11) vs. No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks (26-7), 4 p.m. ET (TNT): The Ducks weren’t on anyone’s radar until they stormed to the Pac-12 tourney title on Saturday, but that kind of momentum is everything in March. South Carolina was the ferocious SEC’s spoiler specialist all season, so an Oregon win here would prove they’re the real deal.

No. 11 NC State Wolfpack (22-14) vs. No. 6 Texas Tech Red Raiders (23-10), 9:40 p.m. ET (CBS): Similar to Oregon, NC State’s stunning run to last weekend’s ACC tournament championship made the world sit up and take notice. Going up against nationally ranked Texas Tech, who honed their skills in a much more competitive conference, will be a serious heat check for the Wolfpack.

No. 10 Drake Bulldogs (28-6) vs. No. 7 Washington State Cougars (24-9), 10:05 p.m. ET (truTV): Washington State has the size advantage, setting up a brawl with one of the country’s top rebounding teams. They’ll be playing in Omaha — just two hours from their campus — so the Cougs should essentially expect a Bulldog home game.

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