March Madness 2023: Four games to watch on Day 1 of NCAA Tournament
There are many phenomenal months in the sports calendar.
August is a wonderful time as Major League Baseball rounds third base on its way to the postseason, NFL training camps get underway and the new college football season kicks off.
January is as good as it gets for fans of football, with the College Football Playoff determining the national champion and the NFL Playoffs taking center stage.
But it is the month of March that is held in such high regard for the sports fan, the final two weeks circled on the calendar as a time to plop down on the couch and set responsibilities aside.
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It’s March Madness, and you can bet there are people all over the country scheming on how to get out of work over the next two days.
Round 1 of the 2023 NCAA Tournament kicks off Thursday, and with 16 games on the slate, it can be difficult to choose which games to watch.
Fortunately, Fox News Digital is here to point out one game in each time slot for fans of college basketball to focus on.
Let’s take a dive. Happy tournament day.
10 Utah State vs. 7 Missouri – 1:40 p.m. ET
The 7 vs. 10 matchups are always intriguing, and this one is no different.
Missouri enters the game with a record of 24-9, finishing fourth in the tough Southeastern Conference.
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It’s been an incredible turnaround for the Tigers, who went from going 12-21 in 2021-2022 to beating six teams in the top 25.
Senior guard Kobe Brown leads Missouri in scoring (15.8 points per game), rebounds (6.3) and three-point shooting (44.7%), leading an offense that averages 79.5 points per game.
The issue is defensively where Missouri ranks 306th in the country in points allowed per game (74.6).
On the other hand, Utah State is 32nd in college basketball in points per game, averaging 78.6.
Junior guard Steven Ashworth leads the Aggies in scoring (16.3 points per game) and shoots 44.3% from beyond the three-point line.
12 College of Charleston vs. 5 San Diego State – 3:10 p.m. ET
This is a fun matchup for fans of mid-major college basketball.
Charleston enters the tournament on everybody’s list as a candidate to upset a higher-seeded team, and San Diego State has a solid NCAA Tournament history.
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The Cougars enter the tournament with the sixth-longest winning streak in the nation and winners of 31 games during the regular season.
They shoot a ton of threes – averaging 30.2 attempts per game – but make just 33.4% of those attempts.
Charleston spreads the wealth, with five players averaging double-digits per game, and they’re third in the country in bench scoring, per ESPN. If the Cougars get hot from beyond the arc, watch out.
For the Aztecs, defense rules the day as they are 29th in the country in points allowed per game at 63.6.
San Diego State allows teams to shoot just 29.3% from the three-point line, ninth in the country.
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They’re led in scoring by senior guard Matt Bradley, who averages 12.9 points per game.
It should be a fun matchup in Orlando.
12 Oral Roberts vs. 5 Duke – 7:10 p.m. ET
The Duke Blue Devils entered the season as the great unknown, without coach Mike Krzyzewski leading the program for the first time since 1980.
The Cameron Crazies were unsure of what to expect from first-year head coach Jon Scheyer, who was reportedly hand-picked by Krzyzewski to lead the program.
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After some early and midseason stumbles, Scheyer has led the Blue Devils to the best record of any team with a first-year head coach in Duke history, going undefeated at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke enters the tournament on a nine-game winning streak, taking down two top-15 teams en route to another ACC Tournament title.
The Blue Devils have gotten hot at just the right time, led by freshman Kyle Filipowski, who is averaging 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
But Duke is young, and while they went 16-0 at home, the Blue Devils were 7-8 away from Durham, N.C., with a matchup against an experienced Oral Roberts team in Orlando, Florida, on the docket.
The Golden Eagles enter the tournament with the nation’s longest winning streak (17) and a record of 30-4.
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Two years ago, Oral Roberts made a surprise Sweet 16 run after beating Ohio State and Florida in the first two rounds.
Three players from that team have led the Golden Eagles during the 2022-2023 season, with guard Max Abmas leading the team in scoring (22.2) and assists per game (4.0).
Oral Roberts is second in the country in made threes per game (10.8 made per game) and enters the game as a sexy upset pick.
Three of the four losses for the Golden Eagles this season came against tournament teams, with losses to St. Mary’s (lost by 8), Houston (lost by 38) and Utah State (lost by 10).
13 Louisiana vs. 4 Tennessee – 9:40 p.m. ET
The Volunteers have one of the best defenses in the country, allowing just 58.0 points per game, and they’re second in field goal percentage allowed (36.9%) and first in three-point percentage (26.2%).
But the loss of point guard Zakai Zeigler in late February hurts, with Zeigler out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Zeigler was Tennessee’s primary ball handler, and the Vols enter the tournament losers of two of three without their point guard.
At one point, the Vols were 18-4 and ranked No. 2 in the country, but they went 5-7 down the stretch and enter the tourney at 23-10.
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For Louisiana, the Ragin’ Cajuns enter the tournament after winning the Sun Belt Tournament, going 26-7 on the season.
Louisiana was third in the Sun Belt in points per game (78.0), leading the conference in field goal percentage (48.4%) and three-point percentage (37.8%).
They’re led by forward Jordan Brown, a 6-11 junior who’s a former McDonald’s All-American.
Brown averages 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.