March Madness is officially here
The GIST: Clear your cal, finish your brackets and finalize your multi-screen setup — March Madness is here. We’ll be back in your inbox breaking down the men’s bracket later today, but for now, let’s catch up on the men’s and women’s First Four as they push toward that first-round dance floor.
- ICYMI, eight teams in each tournament compete in a mini play-in round: The four lowest-ranked auto-bids vie for the two remaining No. 16 seeds, while the four lowest-ranked at-large bids fight for the last two No. 11 seeds.
- Basically, the committee grants better seeding to (generally Power Five) at-large squads vs. smaller Division I (DI) conference champs. It pays to be big.
The men: March certainly wasted no time stirring up mayhem. The first game of the tourney, last night’s bout between Southeastern Missouri State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, came down to the wire, with Texas A&M-CC grabbing a 75–71 dub and the No. 16 seed. Pitt also locked in a No. 11 seed thanks to a narrow 60–59 win over Mississippi State.
- The fellas’ First Four finishes up tonight with a No. 16 seed battle between Fairleigh Dickinson and Texas Southern at 6:40 p.m. ET, followed by Nevada vs. Arizona State for the last No. 11 seed spot at 9:10 p.m. ET.
The women: When the guys’ final play-in games hit the court, the gals will open their First Four round. A special edition with all the women’s tourney deets will be on its way to you tomorrow, but tonight’s showdowns between Illinois and Mississippi State for a No. 11 seed and Sacred Heart and Southern for a No. 16 seed tip off at 7 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET, respectively.
- The most interesting women’s matchup, though, is tomorrow’s No. 11 seed contest. St. John’s flirted with the Top 25 after a hot start in nonconference play, but if you look up “Cinderella” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of surging Purdue. This one’s a toss-up.