While we love the First Four and the way Dayton, Ohio, embraces kicking things off, the 2023 NCAA tournament truly gets underway on Thursday — with 16 first-round games over the course of 12-plus hours.
Three of the four 1-seeds are in action, with Kansas facing Howard at 2 p.m. ET, Alabama tipping against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 2:45 p.m. and Houston going late, at 9:20 p.m ET. They won’t be your typical 1 vs. 16 matchups, either: Will Marcus Sasser suit up for Houston? The Cougars’ All-American guard missed the AAC title game with a groin injury, and his status is up in the air.
Popular potential upsets on Thursday include a couple of mid-major darlings in 12-seeds Oral Roberts and Charleston. Oral Roberts took the country by storm during its run to the Sweet 16 in 2021, led by star guard Max Abmas. Abmas and coach Paul Mills are still leading the Golden Eagles, and they will face Duke, which has turned its season around and enters the dance as one of the hottest teams in the country. Meanwhile, Charleston and its energetic coach, Pat Kelsey, takes its 31-3 record against 5-seed San Diego State. The tempo battle in that one should determine the winner. That also goes for 4-seed Virginia against 13-seed Furman, which won the Southern Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The Paladins want to score the ball early and often, while Virginia prefers a grind-it-out affair. — Jeff Borzello
Leave a Reply