Hopefully, you're in a position today where you don't have to choose one game at a time. I wish everyone was able to post themselves up in a bar with 114 TVs, or kick back at home with DirecTV's March Madness package.
But the world is not perfect, you might have to work today, and the March Madness package is neither free or available to everyone, so, we all do the best we can. Here's what I'd suggest as a basic starting point for your afternoon tournament viewing today, while noting that, of course, you should be flexible and vigilant at all times.
Oh, and if you are going to be stuck at a computer, keep it tuned to The Dagger, as I'll be liveblogging from tip-off to around five o'clock EST.
The first batch:
• 12:20: (8) LSU vs. (9) Butler.
• 12:25: (2) Memphis vs. (15) Cal State Northridge.
• 12:30: (8) BYU vs. (9) Texas A&M.
It's not too shabby for an opening slate. A couple of 8/9 games, which often produce close, competitive contests, as well as a look at Memphis, who, as my good friend Wooderson might say, "is gonna blow your doors completely off."
Jim Nantz will be nurturingly taking your hand at about 12:20, and starting everyone off with the LSU/Butler game, which I find moderately interesting. Butler's one of the mid-major staples of the tournament, and they get a chance to take down a big conference champion, even if that particular big conference isn't very good.
I do recommend taking a look at the BYU vs. Texas A&M game, though. BYU's an interesting little squad. They've got guards who can score, and that seems to be the common theme among underdog teams who make runs in the tournament. Not that they'll be an underdog here, but should they advance, I think they can give UConn a fight. This one's my preference for the early set.
The second batch:
• 2:30: (5) Purdue vs. (12) Northern Iowa.
• 2:50: (1) North Carolina vs. (16) Radford.
• 2:55: (7) Cal vs. (10) Maryland.
• 3:00 (1) UConn vs. (16) Chattanooga
You may want to check in on Carolina to see how the loss of Ty Lawson is affecting them, but my guess is that you won't be able to tell. Not against Radford. UConn's going to steamroll Chattanooga, too.
So that leaves a choice between Purdue vs. Northern Iowa and Cal vs. Maryland. There should be a pretty decent gap between the starting times, so you might get an indication early if Purdue vs. Northern Iowa is a game you want to stick with.
As I see it, Cal vs. Maryland is our best chance for a close game here, but at the same time, I can't recommend it, because whoever wins gets fed to Memphis in the next round. In some ways, it's like watching the play-in game.
So I like Purdue vs. Northern Iowa here. A lot of people like UNI to pull the 12/5 upset (though I'm not one of them), so there's that possibility. Even if it doesn't happen, though, I think Purdue's a fun team to watch. They play your typical Big Ten style, but they've got some exciting individual players, too, in E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel.
The lonely 5:00 game
• 5:00 - Washington vs. Mississippi State.
I almost never watch the 5:00 Thursday game. I need that time to transition between the early set of games and the late set of games. For many, it's a time for rest, recovery, and prolonged urination. I don't know why they insist on sticking a game in there.