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

Loyola Chicago's Lucas Williamson heads to the basket as Drake's Tremell Murphy defends.
Loyola Chicago’s Lucas Williamson heads to the basket as Drake’s Tremell Murphy defends in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament on March 6, in St. Louis. The Ramblers will take on Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
(Jeff Roberson / 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 snuck 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. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola Chicago, 9:15 a.m., CBS: The day gets started with one of the best matchups. Ohio State lost to No. 15 seed Oral Roberts last year and is out to regain lost respect. Loyola Chicago was a Cinderella in 2018, making the Final Four, and in 2021, knocking off No. 1 seed Illinois in the second round. Can Sister Jean bring home another big win over a proud Big Ten program?

No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech, 1:30 p.m., TBS: The Hokies got hot last weekend, winning four in a row in the ACC tournament, including North Carolina and Duke. They will hope to stay hot, but Texas won’t be an easy out. Chris Beard led Texas Tech to the national championship game in 2019, and he brought the same nasty brand of defense to Austin after last season.


No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton, 4:10 p.m., CBS: Will this be Coach K’s last game? A potential Cinderella from our neck of the woods has a say in it. Enough said.

No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Davidson, 6:40 p.m., CBS: This is supposed to be Tom Izzo’s month, but the Spartans have been vulnerable of late. Davidson coach Bob McKillop has had his own March successes, and this group of Wildcats could have what it takes to advance past Michigan State to face (theoretically) Coach K’s Blue Devils.

Here’s a roundup of Thursday’s first-round NCAA men’s basketball tournament games.