You all know how I feel about it: I think today (and, to a slightly lesser extent, tomorrow) is a national holiday, the greatest sports day of the year...
The first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament, when 16 games are played in rapid-fire succession (a bit less rapid-fire this year) and you can spend from noon til midnight watching hoops and rooting for some level of madness: Upsets, close finishes, buzzer-beaters.
First things first: Be sure to get your entry into the "Quickish" group of the Tournament Challenge. Just this morning, we cracked the Top 100 groups. Nicely done!
Next: This is sizing up as the biggest day in Quickish history -- but only with your help. Please be sure to check out the site. And please tell friends! Facebook, Twitter, email, word-of-mouth, tap the next person at the bar on the shoulder. It all helps (seriously).
On to the first day, which is different than past years: Because of the four simultaneous games spread out over 4 TV networks -- a great development for fans -- the start times in the afternoon are much wider. It's an hour between the 2nd and 3rd game of the day.
So on the one hand, no more griping at the TV as you watch one close game finish while you're being held at another one; on the other hand, only one game at a time. No more manic finishes -- I wonder what the unintended consequences are of that. How much of the "madness" feel comes from 2 or 3 games all ending at once? (More than a little, I think.)
Let's get to it (times ET, my pick in bold)
12:15 CBS: (5) WVU-(12) Clemson. I picked WVU but now I'm rooting for Clemson -- and hope to hear the coach say "It's because we got our juices flowing in the First Four."
12:40 TRU: (8) Butler-(9) Old Dominion. One of the most intriguing match-ups of the first round, with both teams a popular pick if they were playing anyone else (or, say, Pitt.)
1:40 TBS: (4) Louisville-(13) Morehead St. But I'm excited to see MSU's Kenneth Faried.
2:10 TNT: (7) Temple-(10) Penn St. Ugh. What a grinder. At least it should be close.
2:45 CBS: (4) Kentucky-(13) Princeton. My 4-year-old picked Princeton. It would be wild if he was right.
3:10 TRU: (1) Pittsburgh-(16) UNC-Asheville. Blowout.
4:10 TBS: (5) Vandy-(12) Richmond. A very popular 12-5 upset pick.
4:40 TNT: (2) San Diego St-(15) No. Colorado. SDSU's road as a favorite starts here.
6:50 TBS: (2) Florida-(15) UC Santa Barbara. Pleasedon'tlosenowpleasedon'tlosenow.
7:15 CBS: (3) BYU-(14) Wofford. CBS isn't dumb. They're putting Jimmer in primetime.
7:20 TNT: (3) UConn-(14) Bucknell. Ahh, now we get game tip-times packed together.
7:27 TRU: (4) Wisconsin-(13) Belmont. Arguably the best game of the 1st round. Belmont is a trendy pick for the upset (with the caveat "Wow, if they were playing anyone but Wisconsin...")
9:20 TBS: (7) UCLA-(10) Michigan St. The annual Izzo run starts now.
9:45 CBS: (6) St. John's-(11) Gonzaga. Unlike many, I find nothing awesome about the Johnnies' resurgence. Good riddance with an early exit.
9:50 TNT: (6) Cincy-(11) Mizzou. A classic toss-up.
9:57 TRU: (5) Kansas St-(12) Utah St. It's going to be a late night. And it could end with a nice little 12-5'er.
Good luck to everyone on their brackets! Should be a great day. Hope you can make it to Quickish. We'll be hustling to help you keep up with the best real-time commentary.