NCAA tournament viewing guide: What, when and where to watch Day 1
This world of ours can be pretty wonderful sometimes. This is one of those times. For the next 96 hours, we get to watch the single greatest sporting event known to man. We here at SI.com will have your television-related questions covered all tournament with our Viewer’s Guide, telling you what, where and when to watch each game.
Opening day of this year's tournament includes three No. 8 vs. No. 9 games, three popular Cinderella teams (Arkansas-Little Rock, Iona and Yale) and three No. 1 seeds (Kansas, North Carolina and Virginia) kicking off their quests for a national championship.
12:15 p.m. ET on CBS
West Regional: No. 4 Duke (23-10, 11-7 ACC) vs. No. 13 UNC-Wilmington (25-7, 14-4 CAA)
Duke features an exceptional offense (ranking sixth nationally in offensive efficiency), a strength that is going to have to be at its best for the Blue Devils to overcome a shaky defense (111th in defensive efficiency) and get back to the Final Four. It’s going to be awfully tough for a team that lacks size like UNC-Wilmington (no players over 6'5" play more than 17 minutes per game) to slow down 6'9" Brandon Ingram, 6'5" Grayson Allen and 7-foot Marshall Plumlee.
12:40 p.m. ET on TruTV
Midwest Regional: No. 8 Texas Tech (19-12, 9-9 Big 12) vs. No. 9 Butler (21-10, 10-8 Big East)
This should be one of the better games of the first round, though both flamed out early in their respective conference tournaments. Both teams have dynamic inside-outside scoring duos, with Zach Smith and Toddrick Gotcher of the Red Raiders taking on the Bulldogs’ Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham.
1:30 p.m. ET on TNT
South Regional: No. 8 Colorado (22-11, 10-8 Pac-12) vs. No. 9 Connecticut (24-10, 11-7 AAC)
The Huskies are up to their old do-or-die tricks, running to an AAC tournament title sparked by a four-overtime win over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals. Behind George King and Dominique Collier, the Buffaloes are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country.
2:00 p.m. ET on TBS
Midwest Regional: No. 4 Iowa State (21-11, 10-8 Big 12) vs. No. 13 Iona (22-10, 16-4 MAAC)
Iona is one of the chic upset picks, and if the MAAC champions do manage to stun the Cyclones, senior guard A.J. English will become a household name. Both of these teams want to get up and down the floor (Iowa State is 16th in shortest possession length, Iona is 34th), so this should be, at the very least, a fun game to watch.
2:45 p.m. ET on CBS
West Region: No. 5 Baylor (22-11, 10-8 Big 12) vs. No. 12 Yale (22-6, 13-1 Ivy)
Yale is another popular upset pick, but consider the following: The Bulldogs turn it over more than any team in the field other than Austin Peay, they’re one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country and only two teams are better than Baylor at cleaning up the offensive glass.
3:10 p.m. ET on TruTV
Midwest Regional: No. 1 Virginia (26-7, 13-5 ACC) vs. No. 16 Hampton (21-10, 13-3 MEAC)
Virginia was a surprising No. 1 seed after losing to North Carolina in the ACC championship game, but there’s no doubt this team has national championship potential. Hampton shouldn’t even be a speed bump for Malcolm Brogdon and company.
4:00 p.m. ET on TNT
South Regional: No. 1 Kansas (30-4, 15-3 Big 12) vs. No. 16 Austin Peay (18-17, 7-9 OVC)
This is one of the most lopsided tournament matchups we’ve ever had, with the No. 1 overall seed facing off with a team that needed to win its conference tournament just to get its record over .500. Kansas may have a challenging road to the Final Four, but the hard part does not begin Thursday.
4:30 p.m. ET on TBS
Midwest Region: No. 5 Purdue (26-8, 12-6 Big Ten) vs. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock (29-4, 17-3 Sun Belt)
It feels like the schedulers knew what they were doing when they made the start time for this wildly popular upset pick. The entire country will get to see the end of this game featuring a Purdue team with all the necessaries (size, shooting, experience, defense) to make a deep tourney run, and a Little Rock team, led by point guard Josh Hagins, that fits the bill of a bracket buster.
6:50 p.m. ET on TNT
South Regional: No. 3 Miami (25-7, 13-5 ACC) vs. No. 14 Buffalo (20-14, 10-8 MAC)
The second half of the day kicks off with a game that looks pretty academic. Miami was in the mix for a No. 1 seed until the last week of the regular season, while Buffalo was the surprise tournament champion in a weak Mid-American Conference.
7:10 p.m. ET on CBS
East Regional: No. 5 Indiana (25-7, 15-3 Big Ten) vs. No. 12 Chattanooga (29-5, 15-3 Southern)
The Hoosiers won the Big Ten regular season title outright, though they did so thanks in part to one of the league's weaker schedules. The Mocs present a tough matchup, but they’re going to have their hands full trying to figure out how to slow down Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell.
7:20 p.m. ET on TBS
East Regional: No. 1 North Carolina (28-6, 14-4 ACC) vs. No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast (21-13, 8-6 Atlantic Sun)
Don’t expect a repeat of Dunk City. North Carolina swept the ACC's regular season and tournament titles, senior forward Brice Johnson has turned into one of the best players in the country, and no team has a better A-game than Roy Williams’ bunch.
7:27 p.m. ET on TruTV
Midwest Regional: No. 3 Utah (26-8, 13-5 Pac-12) vs. No. 14 Fresno State (25-9, 13-5 Mountain West)
The Bulldogs tested themselves out of conference this year, though they lost to Arizona, Evansville and Oregon. With future lottery pick Jakob Poeltl at center and seniors like forward Jordan Loveridge and guard Brandon Taylor, the Utes are going to be a very tough out.
9:20 p.m. ET on TNT
South Regional: No. 6 Arizona (25-8, 12-6 Pac-12) vs. No. 11 Wichita State (25-8, 16-2 Missouri Valley)
This should be a fascinating first-round clash between a couple of teams we're used to seeing higher on the bracket. It should be noted, however, that the Wildcats and Shockers went a combined 4-10 against at-large teams in the regular season, so the winner may not be going very far.
9:40 p.m. ET on CBS
East Regional: No. 4 Kentucky (26-8, 13-5 SEC) vs. No. 13 Stony Brook (26-6, 14-2 America East)
Talk about a tough draw for a school’s first ever tournament berth. Stony Brook big man Jameel Warney is one of the most entertaining players in the field and put up 43 points in the America East title game, but it’s going to be awfully tough for the Seawolves to slow down Wildcats stars Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray, who form the country’s best backcourt.
9:50 p.m. ET on TBS
East Regional: No. 8 USC (21-12, 9-9 Pac-12) vs. No. 9 Providence (23-10, 10-8 Big East)
It’s a bit of an indictment of this Providence team that it only managed a No. 9 seed with a duo like Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Meanwhile, USC sputtered down the stretch, going 2-7 against at-large teams from Jan. 21 through the Pac-12 tournament.
9:57 p.m. ET on TruTV
Midwest Regional: No. 6 Seton Hall (25-8, 12-6 Big East) vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (26-7, 15-3 WCC)
Thursday wraps up with what should be a wildly entertaining game between the blistering Pirates and the offensively charged Bulldogs. The matchups on the wing (Desi Rodriguez vs. Kyle Wiltjer) and in the paint (Angel Delgado vs. Domantas Sabonis) should be great, but Seton Hall’s guards, led by the electric Isaiah Whitehead, will be a brutal test for Gonzaga.