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March Madness Day 3 primer: NCAA Tournament first round schedule, times, channels, predictions

The second day of the 2021 March Madness first round is here with several mid-major stars and top seeds in action.

Welcome to Day 3 of the NCAA Tournament and the second full slate of Round of 64 matchups.

After Friday’s action set fire to brackets around the nation, Saturday should provide plenty of intriguing contests and potential upset bids as well.

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Check out our primer for Saturday’s full slate below.

No. 12 Georgetown vs. No. 5 Colorado (-5.5)

Is this Georgetown team for real? The Hoyas were 3-8 at one point this season and are now eyeing an NCAA Tournament victory just two months later. Patrick Ewing’s group will take on a steady Colorado squad led by star guard McKinley Wright IV.

No. 13 UNCG vs. No. 4 Florida State (-10.5)

UNCG’s Isaiah Miller vs. Florida State’s Scottie Barnes should be one of the better individual player matchups of the day. The big question for UNCG is if it can receive production from players not named Isaiah Miller. Florida State has far more depth and could overwhelm UNCG if it isn’t careful.

No. 14 Eastern Washington vs. No. 3 Kansas (-10)

Can Eastern Washington make this interesting? Kansas had a challenging week from a COVID-19 perspective but expects to have David McCormack back, which should greatly increase the Jayhawks’ hopes of advancing.

No. 9 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 8 LSU (-2)

What can LSU’s iso-oriented offense do against St. Bonaventure’s stingy defense? Playing for the right to likely take on Michigan in the second round, both teams look especially dangerous and could potentially go on a run if they bring their ‘A’ game.

No. 16 Texas Southern vs. No. 1 Michigan (-25.5)

Texas Southern won its First Four game and now eyes a historic upset against Michigan. It will be worth noting that the Wolverines will be without their star Isaiah Livers, and if things remain close, his injury will be a major talking point.

No. 12 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 Creighton (-7.5)

One of the trendiest first-round upsets this year is UC Santa Barbara, which boasts one of the best overall guards in the entire bracket in JaQuori McLaughlin. This matchup should feature plenty of scoring as Creighton is known to hit from the perimeter with guards Mitch Ballock and Marcus Zegarowski.

No. 15 Iona vs. No. 2 Alabama (-16.5)

Rick Pitino returns to the Big Dance as head coach of Iona and is tasked with taking on Final Four contender Alabama. Nate Oats has done a phenomenal job with the Crimson Tide this season, playing at a fast tempo with one of the best defenses in the nation.

No. 11 Drake vs. No. 6 USC (-6.5)

Following its first tournament win in five decades, Drake looks ahead to its 6/11 matchup against USC out of the Pac-12. Who is going to stop Trojans big Evan Mobley? It could either be a coming out party for Drake center Darnell Brodie or an evening to forget for Bulldogs fans.

No. 15 Grand Canyon vs. No. 2 Iowa (-14)

Grand Canyon will have to put up some points if it wants any chance against Iowa, one of the nation’s premier scoring offenses. The Hawkeyes have star big man Luka Garza, who will present matchup issues throughout the tournament. GCU 7-footer Asbjorn Midtgaard has an assignment of a lifetime taking on Garza in this 2/15 tangle.

No. 10 Maryland vs. No. 7 UConn (-3)

UConn makes its long-awaited return to the Big Dance as a member of the Big East against a Maryland squad that has been known to spoil parties this season. The Terps might lack consistency overall but have shown a willingness to compete and steal victories away from home. The Huskies have been playing better than a No. 7 seed since James Bouknight’s return, but this matchup is hardly a cakewalk.

No. 13 Ohio vs. No. 4 Virginia (-7)

Virginia makes its late arrival to Indy by taking on Ohio, which everyone seems to have fallen in love with in their brackets. The Bobcats have Jason Preston running the show, a former unheralded recruit who might be ready for the NBA after this season. The Cavaliers aren’t as elite defensively as previous Tony Bennett teams, which could open the door for an upset.

No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (EVEN)

Oklahoma will be without guard De’Vion Harmon against Missouri, a physical team that leans on defensive intensity to scratch out victories. Can Austin Reaves be the Sooners’ go-to guy? He has had big moments down the stretch but will also be the primary watch for Mizzou’s defense.

No. 16 Norfolk State vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-33)

This will either be the result that everyone expects or possibly the biggest upset in college basketball history. Norfolk State advances to play undefeated Gonzaga after taking care of business in its First Four matchup on Thursday. The Spartans pride themselves on defense, and they will need plenty of it to slow down one of the elite offenses of recent memory.

No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 6 BYU (-3.5)

Can UCLA keep the momentum going against BYU? The Bruins came back from down double digits against Michigan State to shock the Spartans and stay alive. Sophomore wing Jaime Jaquez might not be at 100 percent after hurting his ankle against MSU. Expect this matchup to be a close one.

No. 14 Abilene Christian vs. No. 3 Texas (-8.5)

Texas enters the tournament trying to rid itself from the ghosts that have haunted Shaka Smart’s tournament past. It won’t be easy from the start as Abilene Christian’s relentless defense could cause problems. ACU leads the entire country in turnover rate forced and the Wildcats love to muddy things up.

No. 10 VCU vs. No. 7 Oregon (-5.5)

One of the toughest games for most people to predict, a dangerous Oregon squad takes on Atlantic 10 foe VCU in a matchup that should be dictated by guard play. The Rams have a star in Bones Hyland and Oregon counters with Chris Duarte.

Eli Boettger

Heat Check CBB founder, editor

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