It's finally here! The 2015 NCAA Tournament's second-soon to be first again-round kicks off at 11:15am CT on Thursday. Over the next two days, 32 games will take place, brackets will be busted, and Cinderellas will be anointed. Be sure to stop by Rock Chalk Talk every day of March Madness to get the day's schedule of games and a quick preview of the best matchups of the day.
How To Watch
Games throughout the tournament will air on CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV. If you're one of the many people who never watch truTV, they've made a website to help you find it. Games will also be live streamed on the NCAA March Madness Live website or you can head on over to their mobile page and download their app for your smart phone or tablet.
Thursday's Game Schedule
Games Of The Day
With sixteen games on the schedule, you'll likely have to do some maneuvering to find the best games to watch. Here are my recommendations for the best matchups of the day including a quick preview of each.The NCAA schedule is divided essentially into four sections, so I've offered an option for each window.
Early Afternoon - #14 Georgia State vs. #3 Baylor
Jayhawk fans are quite familiar with Scott Drew's Baylor Bears. Kansas has played them three times this season. The Bears are one of the better teams in the country and figure to cause some problems during the NCAAs with their tricky zone defense and stout offensive rebounding.
The underdog here is Georgia State. The Panthers haven't been on the national radar much this season outside of when their coach tore his achilles celebrating the team's Sun Belt tournament championship. Georgia State features a pair of transfers that are likely familiar names to many. Their second leading scorer is former Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow who is averaging 18.7 points per game. He's currently suffering from a hamstring injury and is a game-time decision for Thursday, but I'd imagine he will give it a go. The other recognizable name is former Louisville guard Kevin Ware who is most famous for suffering a brutal broken leg in the tournament a few years ago. Perhaps the most exciting player, though, is the coach's son. R.J. Hunter, a 6-foot-6 wing, has made his way onto NBA draft boards because of his ability to score the ball. He's averaging 19.7 points per game, but will need to show off an ability to consistently knock down outside jumpers against a lengthy team like Baylor.
KenPom rates Baylor as a seven point favorite and the Bears should likely win given their ability to crash the offensive glass. Georgia State has the talent that most 14 seeds lack, though, and could pull off the upset.
Late Afternoon - #10 Ohio State vs. #7 VCU
This one is all about the matchup between Ohio State's highly touted NBA prospect point guard D'Angelo Russell and VCU's pressure defense. KenPom ranks it as the day's most exciting game, predicting a one point win for Ohio State. If you haven't seen Russell play this year, you should. He's a 6-foot-5 guard who has been compared to James Harden and throws some of the most ridiculous passes you'll see in college basketball. How Russell and backcourt mate Shannon Scott handle VCU's press will likely make the difference in this one.
VCU, meanwhile, lost one of its most important players, Briante Weber, for the season, but still managed to win the Atlantic 10 tournament. The Rams defeated NCAA Tournament teams like Davidson and Dayton on the way to the title. Be on the look out for Treveon Graham, a 6-foot-6 guard, who dropped 20 points in the A-10 title game.
Early Evening - #12 Stephen F. Austin vs. #5 Utah
This classic 12 vs. 5 matchup pits one of the country's best offenses against one of the best defenses. Stephen F. Austin upsets VCU from the same position last year and will look to do so against a Utah team that has struggled a bit lately. The Lumberjacks are led by Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker who both have true shooting percentages over 60 percent. Their coach, Brad Underwood, will also be mentioned frequently this offseason for any number of coaching vacancies.
The Utes are favored by six points according to KenPom, but they've struggled to stop opponents from scoring lately. Four of Utah's last five opponents have scored greater than one point per possession. Still, they're ranked in the top 10 of adjusted defensive efficiency and will have the best player on the floor in senior guard Delon Wright. This one has the potential to be a classic 12 vs. 5 game.
Late Evening - #13 Eastern Washington vs. #4 Georgetown
If you like upsets, this might be the game for you. Georgetown is overseeded based on their resume and Eastern Washington features the nation's leading scorer, Tyler Harvey. Harvey is averaging 22.9 points per game and has hit an NCAA-leading 122 3-pointers. He can put himself on the national map if the Eagles can pull off the upset.