The NCAA tournament has technically been under way for two days. However, the First Four at Dayton doesn't really start the NCAA tournament in earnest. March 20 is the true tip off of March Madness to most fans, as 16 second round games will be played over 12 straight hours, with favorites and Cinderellas alike starting their tournament run.
The very first game of the day pits regional rivals together, as the Ohio State Buckeyes face the Dayton Flyers at 12:15 p.m. est in a South regional contest. The sixth seeded Buckeyes are out to salvage an up-and-down season with a deep NCAA tournament run, while the Flyers try to justify getting one of the last at-large bids.
Yet the Buckeyes aren't the most powerful Big Ten team that will be playing today. The Wisconsin Badgers start off at 12:40 p.m. est against the American Eagles, defending their No. 2 seed out West. Later on, the Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans will be in action, as they both have their eyes on the Final Four down the road.
However, the No. 1 overall seed is from the SEC, as the Florida Gators look to continue a 27-game winning streak. It should be easy against the Albany Great Danes, who already won an NCAA tournament game on March 18 against Mount St. Mary's.
The Gators are the only No. 1 seed to play today, while the Arizona Wildcats, Wichita State Shockers and Virginia Cavaliers wait around to start on March 21. Still, No. 2 seeds Wisconsin, Michigan and the Villanova Wildcats will get under way to make their case as the biggest threats to the No. 1's.
The NCAA tournament may be won by No. 1 and 2 seeds at the end, although No. 4 seeds like the Spartans and Louisville Cardinals are bigger favorites this year. But the opening days of March Madness are usually defined by underdogs and high seeded darlings.
The likes of the Harvard Crimson, North Dakota State Bison, Manhattan Jaspers and Western Michigan Broncos are out to take the early Cinderella reigns today. However, the Cincinnati Bearcats, Oklahoma Sooners, Cardinal and Syracuse Orange want to make sure March Madness doesn't go mad quite yet.
The accompanying slideshow lists all 16 games on the first big day of the NCAA tournament, as well as their projected starting times.