For a glorious 36-hour stretch between noon on Thursday and midnight Friday, sports fans will be treated to 32 NCAA tournament games, all of which are televised across four networks. In the first of two second-round previews, The Dagger runs down Thursday's slate of games and helps you decide which ones deserve your early attention. As always, keep your remote handy.
All times ET. The Dagger's pick for the game to watch is in bold.
12:15 p.m. -- CBS -- No. 6 Murray State vs. No. 11 Colorado State
12:40 p.m. -- truTV -- No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Southern Miss
1:40 p.m. -- TBS -- No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Davidson
2:10 p.m. -- TNT -- No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Montana
CBS sends its best two announcers to Louisville to kick off the greatest two days in sports as Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery will be courtside for Murray State vs. Colorado State. The Racers are 30-1 on the season but face a stiff test in the sharpshooting Rams, who are seeking their first tournament win since 1989. . . . In the past two NCAA tournaments, a No. 13 seed has defeated a No. 4 in the first slate of afternoon games. Davidson is the team to watch if it's going to happen again. The Wildcats defeated Kansas in Lawrence in early December and have lost just three times since Christmas. . . . Your truTV channel probably won't need much attention early on Thursday; K-State is a comfortable favorite against Southern Miss. Still, be sure to find it on your cable provider before the start of games. Unless you're a fan of "Lizard Lick Towing," chances are you've forgotten where it is.
2:45 p.m. (approx.) -- CBS -- No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 14 BYU
3:10 p.m. (approx.) -- truTV -- No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville
4:10 p.m. (approx.) -- TBS -- No. 5 New Mexico vs. No. 12 Long Beach St.
4:40 p.m. (approx.) -- TNT -- No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Harvard
Thirty-nine hours after overcoming a 25-point deficit to Iona in a play-in First Four game, BYU is back on the court against Marquette. Unlike last year when Clemson had to tip off first on Thursday after playing Tuesday night in Dayton, schedulers had the decency to put the Cougars in the second game. . . . The Fab Melo-less Syracuse Orange begin their 2012 tournament. Is this the year a No. 16 seed finally beat a No. 1? It's going to happen and this could be the day. (We write that every year. It's bound to come true one time.) . . . Two of the most intriguing games of the day get the awkward 4 p.m. time slots. Get used to the name Casper Ware; the Long Beach point guard could be one of the early stars in the tournament if the 49ers can spring the upset of New Mexico. And down in Albuquerque, Harvard goes for its first NCAA tournament win in history against SEC finalist Vanderbilt.
Related NCAA tournament video on Yahoo! Sports:
The evening session
6:50 p.m. -- TBS -- No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 16 Western Kentucky
7:15 p.m. -- CBS -- No. 5 Wichita State vs. No. 12 VCU
7:20 p.m. -- TNT -- No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 West Virginia
7:27 p.m. -- truTV -- No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 South Dakota St.
Kentucky starts its march to New Orleans against Tuesday's other comeback team, Western Kentucky. The 1 vs. 16 matchup has the stage to itself for 25 minutes. If TBS is lucky, the game will be competitive for a good chunk of that time. . . . Poor Gonzaga; the Bulldogs had to travel over 2,000 miles for the privilege of playing lower-seeded West Virginia at a location a mere 90 minutes away from its campus. . . . The committee didn't do Wichita State or VCU any favors, either. This year's "it" mid-major plays last year's Final Four Cinderella. How will Wichita State respond to Shaka Smart's smothering Rams defense? If you only get to watch one game over the first two days of the tournament, make sure this is it. . . . Baylor-South Dakota State may not be a bad choice either. The Jackrabbits would have liked a less-athletic team in the first round, but they could still keep things interesting. The fact that few are touting this as a possible upset works in SDSU's favor. Top-four seeds that spend all week answering questions about how they may be possible upset victims tend to come out sharp in opening-round games. (Wisconsin over Belmont last year and Siena over Purdue in 2010 both come to mind.) The lack of hype for the Summit League champs brings in the element of surprise.
9:20 p.m. (approx.) -- TBS -- No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 9 Connecticut
9:45 p.m. (approx.) -- CBS -- No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 New Mexico St.
9:50 p.m. (approx.) -- TNT -- No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Loyola (Md.)
9:57 p.m. (approx.) -- truTV -- No. 6 UNLV vs. No. 11 Colorado
Connecticut has the name, the coach and the pedigree. It's the on-court play that's lacking. Oddsmakers installed the Huskies as a slight favorite, but Ken Pomeroy's log5 ratings favor Iowa State. . . . TNT is going to have to make sure to keep live microphones away from the Loyola bench. Colorful head coach Jimmy Patsos was an assistant under Gary Williams at Maryland. When they were together, it was the only time Gary could ever be referred to as the "calm one." . . . Indiana and New Mexico State follow Wichita State and VCU on CBS? So much for east-coast bias. . . . UNLV/Colorado is scheduled to be the Thursday capper, but with CBS and Turner cramming three evening-session start times into a 12-minute window, any of the latter three sessions could go deepest into the night. The Runnin' Rebels are the sleeper team of the South.
- Wichita State
- Colorado State