Table of Contents

    By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast

    MARCH MADNESS COUCH POTATO PREVIEW

    March Madness is here, you’re staring longingly at your bracket every 15 minutes and now all you need to do is make a game plan for arguably the best sports-watching week of the year. Beyond the giant scope of March Madness and the NCAA Tournament, the NBA and NHL ate humming, Spring Training is here and its sports bliss heading into the springtime. With First Four action starting Tuesday evening at Happy Hour, and sixteen games a day of the opening round being contested all day Thursday and Friday, it can be an intimidating task to conquer all the hoops content and still feel like you’ve missed nothing. Let us help.

    The first week of March Madness is a massive helping of frenetic college hoops and a marathon of sports gluttony that is to be treated with love and planned out carefully. It’s something special about the Noon ET Thursday music in mid-March that hits differently and ends all productivity to your work day. If you love the boss button, hum the CBS intro music non-stop, or stay up past midnight for West Region action in Spokane, this preview is for you. Here’s your fool-proof March Madness week guide to winning the opening rounds on your bracket and with your TV remote.

    THE APPETIZER: THE FIRST FOUR

    It may just be Tuesday afternoon and while the bracket has only been out of the oven for 48 hours, it’s time to start to madness whether you’re ready or not. It’s also time to find where TruTV is and commit that to memory. The chips and salsa at the table of the NCAA Tournament begin during drink o’clock on Tuesday and Wednesday with two First Four matchups each night featuring four bubblicious programs that JUST made it in. Still, these aren’t to be overlooked as teams from the first have made plenty of tournament runs in their 12-year existence in the bracket.

    Tuesday starts with SE Missouri State and Texas A&M-CC in a 16-seed duel to see who gets crushed by Alabama on Thursday night, followed by a juicy 11-seed matchup between Pitt and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, a defensive-minded team that could be a bracket buster in the making. Wednesday’s bracket buster from the first four could very well be Arizona State, led by Desmond Cambridge and poised to make a sneaky run if they get past Nevada. Be on the lookout for the Sun Devils and Bulldogs on your bracket, two play-in teams you should NOT auto-pencil out of the first round. 

    THURSDAY: DEEP BREATHS

    Now the full menu is here, and Thursday’s slate of games is evermore strategically laid out for full-on binging of basketball. Older hoops fans remember the days of “four games per window” that all ended frantically at the same time – those days are gone. The staggered starts of games begin bright and early at 12:15 pm ET and while the downtime is momentary, there are moments that allow for things like food deliveries, bathroom visits, and the elusive communication with non-sports watchers.

    The 12:15 pm ET tip to set things off is a compelling 8 vs. 9 seed matchup to get the March Madness juices flowing, but it’s the #13 seed Furman Paladins (it’s a horse) out of the Southern Conference that is my contender for first Cinderella upset alert of the day against #4 seed Virginia. With two 1 vs. 16 (likely blowout) matchups starting back to back at 2:00 and 2:45 pm ET, the first half and halftime of those games are going to present your first chance to come up for air on a busy Thursday. Plan your dinner out, find our nearest facilities, and strap in for the evening. 

    AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

    I’m watching every single 5 vs. 12 seed matchup this year (cliche, I know) cause I really do think the 12 seed can win each one, including the College of Charleston and Oral Roberts who both take the court Thursday night. Just as dinner or a late-night snack seems appropriate, Duke could be going down in the opening round. From there, Texas powerhouse schools are on display on night one as the #1 seed Houston, #2 seed Texas, and #7 seed Texas A&M are all in action to see who will begin their run towards winning the midwest region and repping their state in Houston for the Final Four. Storylines galore to cap off day one, and so much more to come.

    FRIDAY: GROUNDHOG DAY

    We get to do it ALL OVER AGAIN, this time on a Friday. Sixteen more games led off at 12:15 pm ET by #10 USC vs #7 Michigan State…is another Tom Izzo run in store? The early afternoon barn burner will be #12 VCU vs #5 St. Mary’s undoubtedly and there is definitely a slower crescendo of intrigue with the scheduling of day two action. The first bomb of an upset could come from the Vermont Catamounts, an experienced squad that is an undervalued 15 seed against the 2 seed Marquette (2:45 pm ET) – that’s a tune-in if you’re looking for a diaper dandy. There’s a great 30-minute window I’m forecasting in the 6 pm ET hour for all of the other things in life, just after UConn starts to roll over Iona and before the night games tip-off.

    Friday evening at 6:50 pm ET introduces the world to college basketball’s tallest building, Zach Edey. The 7-foot-5 tower leads Purdue as the one seed in the east region and I see no reason why they can’t get through to Houston amongst this competition. Friday evening brings us the likes of Gonzaga and Kentucky in action during the dinner time window, but just as we get sleepy on Friday evening there’s one more BOMB of an upset alert to watch for. Keep your antennas up for the #14 seeded Montana State Bobcats led by RaeQuan Battle to knock off the #3 seeded Kansas State Wildcats…just when you thought the madness may be dying down on day two.

    THE WEEKEND (IF YOU MAKE IT)

    If you’ve made it to the weekend and your bracket is still intact with a minimal amount of crossed lines, you’ve already beaten a lot of your peers. With that, Saturday game times are revealed late Thursday night, and Sunday time late Friday night. Eight games per day, and often both weekend days are led by a solo feature to ease you into the round of 32. This means errands and life events should be squeezed in before 1 or 2 pm ET at the latest, so no buzzer beater is missed.

    THE COUCH POTATO PLAYS FOR ALEX

    Let’s start the week off with my First Four Plays:

    Texas A&M CC -4, Mississippi State ML, Farleigh Dickinson +115, Arizona State -2

    On Thursday I have to play the very first tip-off and the very last of the night, which helps prevent any dozing off. With that, give me West Virginia ML and Over 134 in UCLA/UNC Asheville for the nightcap.

    My favorite Friday bracket matchup is Montana State, who I’ll take at +8.5, and Money Line at +320 to pull off the stunner.

    BONUS SNACKS 

    If you STILL need more college basketball: The NIT and CBI postseason tournaments are being broadcast for the next two weeks, for all the loser programs who couldn’t get a ticket to THE DANCE.

    The NBA is still plugging away toward the playoffs, with at least 5 games in action every night from Thursday-Sunday.

    …and if you need to fall asleep in between games, put on some Spring Training action on MLB Network.

    With that, let the madness commence, and may your couch be of utmost comfort this week.

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    About Author

    Alex Lauzon

    Lauzon is a podcast host, live broadcaster, analyst and betting extraordinaire for the Course of Life brand. After earning a degree in broadcast journalism at Quinnipiac University, he worked in ESPN and ESPN radio newsrooms. He has interviewed athletes and celebrities from all walks of life who often love to play golf. When he's not playing golf or talking about the game on Course of Life, Lauzon enjoys time with his wife and dog, checking off the next island vacation destination or counting down the days to the next Dell Match Play in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

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