5 Must-See March Madness Matchups: First Round

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Source: stevendepolo via Flickr

Source: stevendepolo via Flickr

Selection Sunday is in the books. The Church of Bracketology has observed its most important holiday, and now March Madness will begin. While the first games of the tournament will be played throughout the week, the first “real” round of NCAA basketball starts on March 20. Why don’t those other games count? They do — sort of. They’re what’s referred to as the “First Four,” the four games that’ll determine the last four teams entered into the tournament proper.

This year, those games are concentrated in the South (one game) and the Midwest (the other three.) In the South, the Albany Great Danes will be facing off against the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers to take on first seeded Florida Gators. For the Midwest, the North Carolina State Wolfpack will duel the Xavier Musketeers — the winner will play the Saint Louis Billikens — while the Cal Poly Mustangs go up against the Texas Southern Tigers to see which one will be matched up against the Wichita State Shockers. Lastly, the Tennessee Volunteers and the Iowa Hawkeyes will compete to play the Massachusetts Minutemen. Whew.

So, technically, that’s the first round of March Madness. But it’s not, really — if a team is playing a game in order to get into the brackets, it’s still a play-in game, even if the NCAA doesn’t call these games that anymore. So here’s five “real” first round matchups that you’re going to want to set aside time to watch. Be sure to rope your boss in, too, ’cause everyone loves March Madness.

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