Day 3 of the NCAA Tournament is our first day of match-ups outside of the First Four. Day 1 of the play-in games brought us some tight match-ups that went down to the wire, while Day 2 featured a couple of drubbings by Vermont and South Florida.
With the first full schedule of the tournament, we are likely to see a few blowouts, nail-biters, and everything in between.
Here are the games to look out for on Thursday, March 15. Be sure to check out in-depth Associated Press previews.
12:15 p.m. — Colorado State vs. Murray State (-5)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Donte Poole was half of a credit from being a Colorado State Ram instead of part of Murray State's dynamic backcourt.
He spent a summer in Fort Collins and loved the promise Rams coach Tim Miles gave of allowing him to take any shot he wanted. But when Poole got his grades, he says he ended up half a credit in math short of qualifying. Read the complete preview here.
12:40 p.m. — Southern Miss vs.Kansas State (-5.5)
PITTSBURGH – Larry Eustachy's players call the Southern Miss coach's brutal honesty his most endearing quality.
Maybe it's because Eustachy has spent the last nine years taking a long, hard look in the mirror each morning being just as hard on himself. Read the complete preview here.
1:40 p.m. — Davidson vs. Louisville (-7.0)
PORTLAND, Ore. — Louisville has taken a crooked path to the NCAA tournament. Once ranked as high as No. 4, the injury-addled Cardinals fell out of the rankings by losing five games in a stretch of seven. Then they limped into the Big East tournament with losses in three of their final games.
But the Cardinals tore through the Big East tournament, beating Seton Hall, Marquette, Notre Dame and, finally, Cincinnati in the conference championship game. Read the complete preview here.
2:10 p.m. — Montana vs. Wisconsin (-9.0)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — By both design and circumstance, Jordan Taylor took a backseat this season.
Taylor's willingness to get others more involved hurt his offensive numbers and likely cost him a shot at a second straight All-America honor but it also helped the Wisconsin Badgers grow up quickly and put them in position for another possible deep run in the NCAA tournament. Read the complete preview here.
2:45 p.m. — Brigham Young vs. Marquette (-6.0)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Jae Crowder hadn't spent much time around snow before.
Safe to say, had he paid a visit to Marquette before he committed, he might be in a very different place this week.
"I hate [winter] still hate it to this day," Crowder, who grew up in Villa Rica, Ga., said Wednesday. "I dislike it, but I deal with it." Read the complete preview here.
3:10 p.m. — UNC-Asheville vs. Syracuse (-15.5)
PITTSBURGH — For the second time in a season filled with wins and off-the-court issues, Syracuse will have to play without starting center Fab Melo.
Like he did in January, when the 7-footer was also declared ineligible by the school for academic reasons, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won't comment on the specifics of the suspension which will keep Melo out for as long as the top-seeded Orange continue in the NCAA tournament. Read the complete preview here.
4:10 p.m. — Long Beach State vs. New Mexico (-4.0)
PORTLAND, Ore. – Dan Monson went down this road more than a decade ago, bringing a talented smaller-conference school with a name no one knew how to pronounce to the NCAA tournament and beginning a string of success for that school with an unforgettable tourney run.
Long Beach State is easier to pronounce than Gonzaga. But the 12th-seeded Long Beach State group Monson brings to Thursday's West Region second-round matchup against No. 5 seed New Mexico (27-6) could be just as dangerous. Read the complete preview here.
4:40 p.m. — Harvard vs. Vanderbilt (-6)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It's one thing to be the Harvard of the South. It's another thing to be Harvard.
Although there's hardly time this week to break down the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the classrooms at Vanderbilt and the school that gave us Jeremy Lin, the gap – if there is one – between top SEC and Ivy League basketball talent will be on display Thursday in a second-round East regional game at The Pit. Read the complete preview here.
6:50 p.m. — Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky (-25.0)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Open practices at this NCAA site came and went with the familiar squeaks of sneakers audible until it was Kentucky's turn to take the floor. In an instant, a palpable buzz engulfed the building.
This is Kentucky's show; Western Kentucky is the opening act. Read the complete preview here.
7:15 p.m. — VCU vs. Wichita State (-6.5)
PORTLAND, Ore. — Because of VCU's unexpected ride in the NCAA tournament last season, the Rams are a known commodity this year – so much so that President Barack Obama has them beating Wichita State to open the Portland Regional.
But that doesn't faze the Shockers. Read the complete preview here.
7:20 p.m. — West Virginia vs. Gonzaga (-1.0)
PITTSBURGH — – Deniz Kilicli wasn't trying to be disrespectful. Honest.
Still, the burly West Virginia center just kind of shook his head when asked if he thought seventh-seeded Gonzaga had the chops to mix it up against the 10th-seeded Mountaineers in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. Read the complete preview here.
7:27 p.m. — South Dakota State vs. Baylor (-8)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy isn't thrilled with the one TV analyst bold enough to pick his Jackrabbits to upset Baylor in their inaugural NCAA tournament appearance.
Sure, there's plenty of room on the Jackrabbits' bandwagon, but Nagy cringed when Seth Davis proclaimed on the CBS Selection show that the 14th-seeded Jackrabbits were his choice to pull off a big upset when they meet the third-seeded Bears Thursday at the Pit. Read the complete preview here.
9:20 p.m. — Connecticut vs. Iowa State (+2)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Connecticut isn't defending anything.
Oh, coach Jim Calhoun knows everyone will call the Huskies the defending champions when they open the NCAA tournament against Iowa State (22-10) on Thursday night. And, by definition, that's right. Read the complete preview here.
9:45 p.m. — New Mexico State vs. Indiana (-6.5)
PORTLAND, Ore. — Four years might not constitute an NCAA tournament drought for many schools.
At Indiana, that might as well be considered an eternity.
So don't mind Hoosiers fans who are more than a little amped by the turnaround that has taken what was a gutted program a few years ago and turned it into a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament that is about to face No. 13 seed New Mexico State (26-9) in the South Region on Thursday. Read the complete preview here.
9:50 p.m. — Loyola (MD) vs. Ohio State (-17.0)
PITTSBURGH — Ohio State has four sophomore starters and one bad NCAA tournament memory.
The Buckeyes were knocked out of last year's tournament in the regional semifinals by a jumper by Kentucky's Brandon Knight with 5 seconds to play. A No. 1 seed last year, the Buckeyes felt their season ended way too soon. Read the complete preview here.
9:57 p.m. — Colorado vs. UNLV (-5.5)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Stacey Augmon, Larry Johnson, Jerry Tarkanian, NCAA violations. Yes, you could play the word association game for hours and not run out of memories, good and bad, for UNLV.
As for Colorado? Well, this is the program that produced Chauncey Billups. And there was the time the coach took a sledgehammer to the locker room as a not-so-subtle way of getting a construction project going. Even more recently, there was an NCAA snub that still bothers this team a year later. Read the complete preview here.
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