The madness officially begins today with a 16-game slate in the first round of the NCAA men’s tournament and two more top-four games in the women’s tonight.
Among the featured matchups on the men’s side: Gonzaga, seeded No. 1 overall, begins his quest for an elusive championship by taking on No. 16 Georgia State. Two other seeds, Baylor and Kansas, are also in action .
The Bears face Norfolk State in an East Region game, and in the Midwest Region, the Jayhawks play in the final caution of the day as they entertain Texas Southern, which won its opener against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Michigan, which barely cracked the 68-team field, begins action Thursday at 12:15 p.m. ET as it takes on a dangerous Colorado State side and its Mountain West Player of the Year, David Roddy.
Other intriguing matchups include No. 9 Memphis vs. No. 8 Boise State in the West Region and the ever-dangerous 5-12 roster, with New Mexico State and Connecticut going head-to-head.
On the women’s side, Longwood takes on Mount Saint Marry’s in a battle for the No. 16 seed (7 p.m.) while Missouri State takes on Florida State for the No. 11 seed.
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Dick Vitale Against Cancer
College Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Vitale is usually pumped up for this time of year, but after being diagnosed with cancer and recovering from vocal cord surgery to treat lymphoma, Vitale was unable to speak and show his enthusiasm for the game he loves.
“Not being able to communicate makes me cry,” Vitale, 82, told USA TODAY Sports via text message. “I love talking with people – at lunch or dinner, with my wife and family, and especially with people in public when they come to me for a chat.”
Vitale was scheduled to undergo an evaluation to check his voice on March 16, the day before the first round of the NCAA Men’s Tournament.
Bill Self tops college basketball’s highest-paid list
Kansas coach Bill Self guided the Jayhawks to success on the court and is handsomely rewarded for his efforts as one of the highest paid coaches in college basketball. Self earns $10.2 million this season as the Jayhawks have another title-capable team.
Each of the top five earning coaches has won at least one national championship.
On the women’s side, Dawn Staley of South Carolina sets the standard as she earns nearly $3 million per season.
Notre Dame outlasts Rutgers in double overtime
Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson Jr. made a layup with 1.4 seconds left in second overtime, lifting the Fighting Irish to an 89-87 victory in the final game of the front four at Dayton . The Irish now travel to San Diego in a West Region contest to take on No. 6 seeded Alabama.
Indiana’s Plane Troubles
After Indiana beat Wyoming in a first-four game, the Hoosiers had trouble leaving Dayton. The team didn’t leave town until 4am because they had to change planes because the one waiting for them was too small to accommodate everyone.
The plane ended up landing five hours later in Portland, giving Indiana less than 36 hours before facing Saint Mary’s in the first round of Thursday’s NCAA Tournament.