The NCAA Tournament tips off today, and while unfortunately the Gamecocks did not receive an invitation to the dance this year, the opening weekend consists of four of the best days on the calendar for sports fans every year.
First, the schedule, with times and TV:
Thursday's Game Schedule
|South||Dayton Flyers (11) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (6)||First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)||12:15p||CBS||Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Allie LaForce|
|West||American University Eagles (15) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (2)||BMO Harris Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI)||12:40p||truTV||Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/Lewis Johnson|
|South||Pittsburgh Panthers (9) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (8)||Amway Center (Orlando, FL)||1:40p||TBS||Brian Anderson/Dan Bonner//Kristine Leahy|
|East||Harvard Crimson (12) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (5)||Spokane Memorial Arena (Spokane, WA)||2:10p||TNT||Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb//Jaime Maggio|
|South||Western Michigan Broncos (14) vs. Syracuse Orange (3)||First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)||2:45p||CBS||Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Allie LaForce|
|West||BYU Cougars (10) vs. Oregon Ducks (7)||BMO Harris Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI)||3:10p||truTV||Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/Lewis Johnson|
|South||Albany Great Danes/ Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers (16) vs. Florida Gators (1)||Amway Center (Orlando, FL)||4:10p||TBS||Brian Anderson/Dan Bonner//Kristine Leahy|
|East||Delaware Blue Hens (13) vs. Michigan State Spartans (4)||Spokane Memorial Arena (Spokane, WA)||4:40p||TNT||Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb//Jaime Maggio|
|East||Saint Joseph's (PA) Hawks (10) vs. Connecticut Huskies (7)||First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)||6:55p||TBS||Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Allie LaForce|
|MidWest||Wofford Terriers (15) vs. Michigan Wolverines (2)||BMO Harris Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI)||7:10p||CBS||Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/Lewis Johnson|
|MidWest||North Carolina State Wolfpack/Xavier Musketeers (12) vs. Saint Louis Billikens (5)||Amway Center (Orlando, FL)||7:20p||TNT||Brian Anderson/Dan Bonner//Kristine Leahy|
|West||North Dakota State Bison (12) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (5)||Spokane Memorial Arena (Spokane, WA)||7:27p||truTV||Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb//Jaime Maggio|
|East||Milwaukee Panthers (15) vs. Villanova Wildcats (2)||First Niagara Center (Buffalo, NY)||9:25p||TBS||Verne Lundquist/Bill Raftery/Allie LaForce|
|MidWest||Arizona State Sun Devils (10) vs. Texas Longhorns (7)||BMO Harris Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI)||9:40p||CBS||Ian Eagle/Jim Spanarkel/Lewis Johnson|
|MidWest||Manhattan Jaspers (13) vs. Louisville Cardinals (4)||Amway Center (Orlando, FL)||9:50p||TNT||Brian Anderson/Dan Bonner//Kristine Leahy|
|West||New Mexico State Aggies (13) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (4)||Spokane Memorial Arena (Spokane, WA)||9:57p||truTV||Spero Dedes/Doug Gottlieb//Jaime Maggio|
Games of relevance to South Carolina fans particularly include:
- The Florida Gators, who beat up on the Gamecocks twice this season, face off against the Albany Great Danes (whose mascot looks like Scooby Doo) at 4:10pm. Expect the top-seeded Gators to advance easily.
- From the Palmetto State, the Wofford Terriers take on the two seed in the Midwest Region, the Michigan Wolverines, at 7:10pm on Thursday evening. The Terriers take the court without Aerris Smith, who explained why in a heartfelt post-game interview following their Southern Conference championship.
- The Manhattan Jaspers, once regarded as a bad loss (the comments were not kind to Carolina in this post-game thread), won the MAAC tournament and earned the 13 seed in the Midwest Region. If you're thinking they look like a trendy upset pick, think again - they face one of the best four seeds to ever grace the field in the Louisville Cardinals. George Beamon and company may give the Cardinals a run for a bit, but quality should win out.