On a day when half of America calls in to work and feigns illness, and the rest of America goes to work but doesn't actually do anything, one of our great annual sporting events gets under way. College basketball fans and gambling degenerates, rejoice!
Typically, I wouldn't even acknowledge the First Four and just go with the assumption that the NCAA Tournament begins today. However, it seems the Madness has already begun. In Play-In Game 1 on Tuesday night, sub .500 Western Kentucky shot 30% overall and 12% from 3, and committed 26 TO's, and still came from 16 back with 5 minutes left to beat Miss Valley St. Not to be outdone, in Play-In Game 2, BYU got behind Iona by 25 points in the first half, and then stormed back to win, making it the largest deficit ever overcome to win a tournament game.
Wednesday's Play-In Games were less dramatic. Vermont beat a slightly favored Lamar to earn a matchup with UNC. Then we saw the Cal Bears score a whopping 13 points in the first half against So Florida, trail by as much as 30 in the second half, and leave the Selection Committee with the belated realization that the Pac-12 didn't even deserve its single at-large bid. Go Buffs!
These first (last?) 8 teams showed everyone why they were play-ins. They weren't pretty. But they also showed why the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is so much fun. Buckle up everyone, March Madness has arrived. Get your brackets out and the red pencils ready.
Today's first game begins at 12:15 ET with Colorado St v. Murray St and the final game begins at 9:57 ET with Colorado v. UNLV, and there are 14 others in-between. The full schedule for today's games and their associated channels can be found here. For those who don't want to channel surf, all games will be streamed on ncaa.com.
The usual drama is about to unfold: Who plays Cinderella this year? Which 12 will upset which 5? Will a 1 seed finally lose to a 16? (I'm looking at you, Syracuse). Who hits the impossible buzzer beater? How long until Kentucky's wins are vacated? How long until your bracket is worthless? Who gets to cut down the nets in New Orleans in 3 weeks? Stay tuned.
Here is our open thread for everyone watching or just eavesdropping today to discuss games, brackets, upsets, junk food, and even our Bruins, if you wish.
Speaking of...I know the Tournament isn't the same without our Bruins, and missing the dance is never acceptable in Westwood (I'm looking at you, Dan). But rather than appear "negative", let me just leave you this little reminder of the Tournament and better days and heartier players. Oh, and we'll miss you this month, too, Gus.
Remember how that felt? Yeah, pretty amazing, right? That's why this stuff matters so much to us, and why we do what we do.
In the meantime, enjoy the Madness.