What games to watch for Thursday’s NCAA tournament first round

Providence's Jared Bynum and Nate Watson celebrate.
Providence’s Jared Bynum (4) and Nate Watson (0) celebrate after a game against Butler during the Big East conference tournament on March 10 in New York.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Anyone who grew up obsessed with March Madness has their stories of how they managed to watch the NCAA tournament from school or the office. In high school, I sneaked a portable handheld TV that my mom had — this was the mid-1990s — and grabbed a glimpse of the CBS feed whenever I could.

Today, of course, we are spoiled. All of the games are on a cable network or the March Madness streaming app. I’ll have four screens going until there’s only a need for three, three until there’s only a need for two, and so on.

But some may not be on my level. For those of you who may just have the bandwidth for one game at a time, here’s my best guess for what will be the game to watch during each part of the day throughout the early part of the tournament.


No. 4 South Dakota State vs. No. 13 Providence, 9:40 a.m., TruTV: The Jackrabbits are only two-point underdogs against the Big East champions, meaning this could be the first upset — in the traditional sense, anyway — of this tournament.

No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Marquette, 1:30 p.m., TBS: Will the North Carolina team that ruined Coach K‘s home finale show up or the team that lost to Pitt in Chapel Hill? If it’s the former, the Tar Heels will have a shot to knock off Baylor on Saturday.

Times college sports writer J. Brady McCollough makes his picks and predictions for every game in the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

March 15, 2022

No. 5 St. Mary’s vs. No. 12 Indiana, 4:20 p.m., TBS: Indiana has won three of four to put itself into the field of 64. Tune in to find out if first-year coach Mike Woodson truly has something going here or not.

No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 10 San Francisco, 6:40 p.m., CBS: How often do you see two mid-majors playing each other as top-10 seeds on the first day of the tournament? The winner likely gets a shot Saturday against Kentucky.