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And So It Begins – The NCAA Tournament Jumps Into Full-Scale, Tip-Off Mode

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Begins This is what we waited for. Through the early-season mismatches. Through the regular season. And on through the conference tournaments. Now it’s here. The...

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Begins

This is what we waited for. Through the early-season mismatches. Through the regular season. And on through the conference tournaments.

Now it’s here. The real Day One of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The official March Madness start.

Hey, cheers to the teams that won in Dayton during the First Four play-in. But we will be way more interested in the Final Four in April. The First Four are mostly red meat tossed to the better teams, from smaller conferences and with less, if any, of a national following.

No matter. Whoever made it out of Dayton is a winner. Trophies for all! And the reward for our patience is that we not have to move much on this Thursday once we hunker down with our eyes trained on the TV.

Hunker down time: 12:15 p.m. ET. Minnesota vs. Louisville on CBS. Let the games begin. Sixteen of them on Thursday alone. Last game: Baylor-Syracuse, theoretically at 9:57 p.m. and probably later.

If you somehow sleep through Thursday, well, you are in for a surprise. There are 16 games on Friday as well.

After UMBC last year became the first No. 16 seed to take out a No. 1 (Virginia), every team feels it at least has hope in this early round where mismatches are the most obvious. How can you not feel for Fairleigh Dickinson, in its first NCAA Tournament, meeting No. 1 Gonzaga? Or Iona, which launched Jim Valvano into the coaching stratosphere (albeit later at North Carolina State), facing No. 1 North Carolina?

Maybe the moment of glory won’t last for the underdogs. At least they got there to enjoy it. And we can as well.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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