March Madness begins in earnest with the start of the first round on Thursday
The day college basketball fans have been waiting for all season is here with the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament set to commence on Thursday, March 21. The latest edition of March Madness will begin in earnest as 16 games are on tap for Thursday, starting shortly after noon ET and continuing on the through the night at venues across the country. All games will be broadcast on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV and be available to stream via NCAA March Madness Live.
Brackets will surely be busted in short order as the inevitable upset will occur but everyone will be watching in anticipation to see which top seed tumbles and if this year's Cinderella makes an early appearance. Regardless of which teams win and which lose there will be plenty of action on the hardwood to take in and digest on Thursday as March Madness has arrived!
So if you're wondering, "What NCAA Tournament games are on today?" know this: There are 16 scheduled for Thursday, March 21.
Note: Some start times are approximate.
12:15 p.m. ET on CBS — Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa)
Why You Should Watch: A pair of inconsistent Power 5 teams that finished with losing records in conference play but are capable of rising the occasion tip off the first round.
East Region: No. 14 Yale (22-7) vs. No. 3 LSU (26-6)
12:40 p.m. ET on truTV — VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Why You Should Watch: The Ivy League champion Bulldogs will look to pull off the upset against a potentially distracted Tigers team that's dealing with the absence of head coach Will Wade due to his involvement in a FBI investigation that also briefly cast some doubt on star freshman guard Javonte Smart's playing status.
Midwest Region: No. 12 Mexico State (30-4) vs. No. 5 Auburn (26-9)
1:40 p.m. ET on TNT — Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City)
Why You Should Watch: New Mexico State is one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of 19 in a row and making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Auburn has won eight in a row, including the last four to take the SEC Tournament title.
West Region: No. 13 Vermont (27-6) vs. No. 4 Florida State (27-7)
2 p.m. ET on TBS — XL Center (Hartford, Conn.)
Why You Should Watch: Vermont dominated its America East peers, going 17-2 to win both the regular-season and tournament titles. The Catamounts are led by forward Anthony Lamb (21.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg), who is one of the better players in the country that you may not have heard of. Florida State is fresh off of a victory over South Region No. 1 seed Virginia to make it to the ACC Tournament championship game and is a deep team that gets the job done on both ends of the floor.
2:45 p.m. ET on CBS — Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa)
Why You Should Watch: Bradley won the Missouri Valley Conference to earn its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006. Michigan State won the Big Ten regular-season title (shared with Purdue) and conference tournament in the same season for the first time since 2012. Both teams rank in the top 40 in the nation in scoring defense so points may be hard to come by.
3:10 p.m. ET on truTV — VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Why You Should Watch: Belmont beat Temple in the First Four on Tuesday night for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. The Bruins are one of the nation's most efficient offensive teams and take good care of the ball despite playing fast. Maryland has plenty of size, headlined by a pair of future NBA players in center Bruno Fernando and forward Jalen Smith but this is a young team with minimal postseason experience.
Midwest Region: No. 13 Northeastern (23-10) vs. No. 4 Kansas (25-9)
4 p.m. ET on TNT — Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City)
Why You Should Watch: Northeastern won the CAA Tournament behind an offense that likes to dial it up from long range (38.8 percent shooting on 3-pointers) and minimizes mistakes. Kansas saw its streak of 14 consecutive Big 12 regular-season titles come to an end and then lost to Iowa State in the conference tournament championship game. Are the blue-blood Jayhawks ripe for another March upset?
4:30 p.m. ET on TBS — XL Center (Hartford, Conn.)
Why You Should Watch: To see two of the country's best players – Murray State's Ja Morant and Marquette's Markus Howard – go head-to-head, although Howard has been dealing with a wrist injury. The Racers are a popular pick to make it to the second weekend.
6:50 p.m. ET on TNT — Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa)
Why You Should Watch: Nevada, one of last year's Tournament darlings who lost by one point to Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16, are the ones on upset alert. Florida's record may not seem that impressive but the Gators have some quality wins on their resume and use their defense to force teams into rushed shots and turnovers.
Midwest Region: No. 15 Abilene Christian (27-6) vs. No. 2 Kentucky (27-6)
7:10 p.m. ET on CBS — VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Why You Should Watch: Abilene Christian won the Southland Conference Tournament to earn its first invite to the Big Dance. Kentucky may be flying somewhat on the radar, but don't sleep on these Wildcats. This UK team is talented, athletic, battle-tested and hungry after coming up short in the SEC Tournament.
7:20 p.m. ET on TBS — XL Center (Hartford, Conn.)
Why You Should Watch: Villanova opens up its title defense not too far from home against a Saint Mary's team that knocked off West Region No. 1 seed Gonzaga to win the West Coast Conference Tournament and automatic bid.
West Region: No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson (21-13) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (30-3)
7:27 p.m. ET on truTV — Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City)
Why You Should Watch: Fairleigh Dickinson overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Prairie View A&M in the First Four on Tuesday for the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Next up for the Knights is Gonzaga, who is still smarting from getting upset by Saint Mary's in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game. The Bulldogs are in the NCAA Tournament for the 21st consecutive season and have advanced to the Sweet 16 in each of the past four years.
West Region: No. 15 Montana (26-8) vs. No. 2 Michigan (28-6)
9:20 p.m. ET on TNT — Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, Iowa)
Why You Should Watch: For the second straight year, Montana and Michigan will meet in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines fell to archrival Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Tournament championship game and is looking to make it three Sweet 16 appearances in a row.
9:40 p.m. ET on CBS — VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Why You Should Watch: Wofford may hail from the Southern Conference but the Terriers' only losses this season have come against North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma – all teams that are in the NCAA Tournament. Seton Hall has some impressive wins of its own, including two against Marquette as well as beating Villanova, Kentucky, and Maryland.
South Region: No. 14 Old Dominion (26-8) vs. No. 3 Purdue (23-9)
9:50 p.m. ET on TBS — XL Center (Hartford, Conn.)
Why You Should Watch: Old Dominion is making its first NCAA Tournament season since 2011 and the Conference USA regular-season and tournament champions beat teams with stifling defense and forcing teams to play at their pace. Purdue claimed a share of the Big Ten regular-season title before bowing out early in the conference tournament. The Boilermakers are led by Carsen Edwards, one of the nation's most prolific scorers (23.0 ppg), and boast the fifth-most efficient offense.
9:57 p.m. ET on truTV — Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City)
Why You Should Watch: The first full day of NCAA Tournament action concludes with a pair of teams that have enjoyed success in the Big Dance in recent years but are both looking to put disappointing regular-season finishes behind them.