March Madness Day 2 primer: NCAA Tournament first round schedule, times, channels, predictions

The first day of the 2021 March Madness first round is here with plenty of intriguing matchups and potential upset bids.

If Thursday’s First Four was any indication, the madness of March is finally here.

Each of the four teams that led by double digits in the first half during the First Four trailed at one point in the second half, and only Norfolk State was able to hold on to its sizable lead.

March Madness central
—PODCAST: Hope & Rauf’s March Madness predictions
SUBCSRIBE to 
Heat Check Premium today!

Regardless of what we witness during Friday’s first round, there should be no shortage of thrilling finishes along the way.

No. 10 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Florida (EVEN)

  • Time: 12:15 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS
  • Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Mike Young makes his tournament debut as head coach of Virginia Tech, once ranking as high as 15th in the AP poll. He’s set to take on a Florida squad that has had its fair share of ups and downs throughout the season but has a star in sophomore Tre Mann. The winner will likely take on Ohio State on Sunday.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Virginia Tech; ATS: Virginia Tech
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Florida; ATS: Florida
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Virginia Tech; ATS: Virginia Tech
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Virginia Tech; ATS: Virginia Tech
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Florida; ATS: Florida

No. 14 Colgate vs. No. 3 Arkansas (-8.5)

  • Time: 12:45 p.m. ET
  • Channel: truTV
  • Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Can the NET rankings prove Colgate as a true upset candidate? Matt Langel’s Raiders make their nonconference debut of the season against Arkansas in what figures to be an up-tempo, high-scoring affair that could get interesting.

No. 16 Drexel vs. No. 1 Illinois (-22.5)

  • Time: 1:15 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBS
  • Venue: Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Don’t think this one will be much of a sweat for Illinois, which has the best player on the floor in Ayo Dosunmu and enters the tournament with 14 wins in 15 tries.

No. 11 Utah State vs. No. 6 Texas Tech (-4)

  • Time: 1:45 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TNT
  • Venue: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Ind.)

What can Utah State’s monster center Neemias Queta accomplish against a smaller Texas Tech frontcourt? This one should come down to the closing possessions with the way both head coaches emphasize defensive intensity. The Red Raiders will gladly put the ball in Mac McClung’s hands in the final minutes.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Utah State; ATS: Utah State
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Utah State; ATS: Utah State
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Texas Tech; ATS: Texas Tech
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Texas Tech; ATS: Utah State
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Utah State; ATS: Utah State

No. 15 Oral Roberts vs. No. 2 Ohio State (-16)

  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS
  • Venue: Mackey Arena (West Lafayette, Ind.)

Kyle Young has been ruled out for Ohio State’s first-round matchup against Oral Roberts, which could be worth monitoring. The Buckeyes are comfortable favorites but ORU is one of the better scoring teams in the field behind the nation’s top bucket-getter in Max Abmas. If OSU has an off shooting night or ORU gets hot, this one could be tighter than most anticipate.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Ohio State; ATS: Oral Roberts
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Ohio State; ATS: Oral Roberts
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Ohio State; ATS: Oral Roberts
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Oral Roberts; ATS: Oral Roberts
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Ohio State; ATS: Oral Roberts

No. 16 Hartford vs. No. 1 Baylor (-25.5)

  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Channel: truTV
  • Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Hartford is making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and the Hawks are immediately thrown into the gauntlet against a spectacular Baylor Bears squad. It will be worth keeping an eye on Baylor’s perimeter shooting, where the Bears lead the nation at 41.8-percent 3-point shooting while Hartford’s 28.7-percent 3-point defense is good for 9th in the country.

No. 9 Georgia Tech vs. No. 8 Loyola Chicago (-5.5)

  • Time: 4 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBS
  • Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

How will Moses Wright’s absence impact the Yellow Jackets? Josh Pastner’s Georgia Tech team enters as one of the hottest teams in the bracket but the loss of Wright, the ACC player of the year, is a gigantic hit. With Sister Jean in the crowd and Cameron Krutwig on the floor, Loyola figures to be in decent shape for another March Madness victory.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Loyola Chicago; ATS: Loyola Chicago
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Loyola Chicago; ATS: Loyola Chicago
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Loyola Chicago; ATS: Loyola Chicago
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Loyola Chicago; ATS: Georgia Tech
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Loyola Chicago; ATS: Georgia Tech

No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 5 Tennessee (-8.5)

  • Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TNT
  • Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Much like Utah State vs. Texas Tech, look for Oregon State-Tennessee to be another hard-fought contest. Neither team is going to shoot the lights out and physicality is what has allowed both teams to succeed this season. Do the Beavers have magic left after their Pac-12 bid-stealing run or will the Vols close the door?

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Oregon State; ATS: Oregon State
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Tennessee; ATS: Oregon State
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Oregon State; ATS: Oregon State
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Tennessee; ATS: Tennessee
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Tennessee; ATS: Oregon State

No. 13 Liberty vs. No. 4 Oklahoma State (-7.5)

  • Time: 6:25 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBD
  • Venue: Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Indianapolis, Ind.)

The Cade Cunningham show hits the March stage. While Cunningham will rightfully get all of the attention in this one, Liberty is hardly a pushover. The Flames upset No. 5 Mississippi State in the 2019 tournament and are a perfect candidate to wreck a bracket if Oklahoma State isn’t on its ‘A’ game. Ritchie McKay’s team is top 20 nationally in most offensive statistics.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Oklahoma State; ATS: Oklahoma State
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Oklahoma State; ATS: Oklahoma State
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Oklahoma State; ATS: Oklahoma State
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Oklahoma State; ATS: Oklahoma State
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Oklahoma State; ATS: Oklahoma State

No. 9 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 North Carolina (-1.5)

  • Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS
  • Venue: Mackey Arena (West Lafayette, Ind.)

Wisconsin enters as the comfortable KenPom favorite that could have been seeded a line or two higher but the Badgers’ lukewarm 17-12 record spells some concerns. North Carolina is going to have to record second-chance points against the Badgers front line. How Wisconsin responds to UNC’s nation-leading offensive rebounding percentage will be key.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: North Carolina; ATS: North Carolina
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: North Carolina; ATS: North Carolina
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: North Carolina; ATS: North Carolina
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: North Carolina; ATS: North Carolina
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: North Carolina; ATS: North Carolina

No. 15 Cleveland State vs. No. 2 Houston (-20)

  • Time: 7:15 p.m. ET
  • Channel: truTV
  • Venue: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, Ind.)

Dennis Gates has turned around the Cleveland State in no time and faces his biggest challenge yet in national title contender Houston. The Cougars still aren’t receiving a ton of love on the national scale as far as Final Four hopes are concerned despite ranking top 15 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, which only Gonzaga, Michigan and Illinois can also claim.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Houston; ATS: Houston
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: Houston; ATS: Cleveland State
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: Houston; ATS: Cleveland State
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Houston; ATS: Cleveland State
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Houston; ATS: Clevenad State

No. 13 North Texas vs. No. 4 Purdue (-7.5)

  • Time: 7:25 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TNT
  • Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Is there a potential upset in this 4/13 meeting? The Boilermakers enjoyed a strong regular season but remain one of the youngest teams in the dance while North Texas will again have star guard and future pro Javion Hamlet on the floor. UNT is a tough defensive team so this one could be much closer than most people anticipate when filling out their brackets.

No. 10 Rutgers (-1.5) vs. No. 7 Clemson

  • Time: 9:20 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TBS
  • Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Rutgers is finally dancing again. For the first time since 1991, the Scarlet Knights are in the March Madness bracket and draw a winnable game against a Clemson squad that has had its fair share of ups and downs throughout the year. There are plenty of athletes and physical players in this one, which could provide some fireworks down the stretch.

No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 6 San Diego State (-3)

  • Time: 9:40 p.m. ET
  • Channel: CBS
  • Venue: Hinkle Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Here we go again with Jim Boeheim’s Orange barely sneaking into the field as a No. 11 seed. Do we chalk up a Syracuse Final Four run now? For Boeheim’s team to advance, it will have to take care of an Aztecs squad that is playing as well as anyone in the country, entering the tournament with 14 consecutive victories. Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel and Terrell Gomez could have a big day from the perimeter against Syracuse’s zone defense.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: San Diego State; ATS: San Diego State
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: San Diego State; ATS: San Diego State
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: San Diego State; ATS: San Diego State
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: San Diego State; ATS: San Diego State
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: Syracuse; ATS: Syracuse

No. 14 Morehead State vs. No. 3 West Virginia (-13)

  • Time: 9:50 p.m. ET
  • Channel: truTV
  • Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Ind.)

Make sure to keep tabs on Morehead State forward Johni Broome. The last time Morehead State was in this tournament, the 2011 Eagles — led by future pro Kenneth Faried — upset Louisville in the 4/13 first-round matchup. Broome is another OVC star who could wreak havoc on WVU if the Mountaineers aren’t careful. Unlike most WVU squads, this year’s team is far more adept on the offensive end.

  • Andy Dieckhoff (1-3; 2-2) — SU: West Virginia; ATS: Morehead State
  • Brian Rauf (1-3; 1-3) — SU: West Virginia; ATS: West Virginia
  • Connor Hope (1-3; 2-2) — SU: West Virginia; ATS: Morehead State
  • Eli Boettger (2-2; 1-3) — SU: West Virginia; ATS: Morehead State
  • Lukas Harkins (2-2; 1-3) — SU: West Virginia; ATS: West Virginia

No. 12 Winthrop vs. No. 5 Villanova (-6.5)

  • Time: 9:57 p.m. ET
  • Channel: TNT
  • Venue: Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Indianapolis, Ind.)

The nightcap is a 5/12 matchup where everyone seems to be rolling with the upset in their brackets. Winthrop is a few free throws from being 24-0 and might have the best player on the floor in 6-7 point guard Chandler Vaudrin, who leads the Eagles’ up-tempo attack. Villanova likely wouldn’t have been such a popular upset victim choice if Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore were healthy, which shrinks an already short bench.

Eli Boettger
Eli Boettger

Heat Check CBB founder, editor