LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: Donte Smith #14 of the USC Trojans reacts after making a basket in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats in the semifinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 11, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Last night, the first-ever "First Four" opened with UNC-Asheville winning an overtime thriller over Arkansas-Little Rock to move on to a Second Round game with Pittsburgh on Thursday, while Clemson had no trouble with UAB, a team criticized early and often for its inclusion in the field in the nightcap. That means the Tigers move on to a game with West Virginia, which tips just after noon on Thursday.
As last night's broadcast team of Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, and Steve Kerr has moved on to their respective weekend sites, Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, who will call games in Cleveland, at the opposite corner of Ohio from Dayton, slide in to announce tonight's action.
|Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners vs. Alabama St. Hornets||6:30 p.m. ET||truTV|
|USC Trojans vs. Va. Commonwealth Rams||approx. 9 p.m. ET||truTV|
Game one features Southland tournament champion UTSA, who defeated regular season champion McNeese State in the league final. The Roadrunners were the No. 7 seed in the Southland tourney, but they finished just two games behind the Cowboys in the standings, which tells you how competitive that particular race was, and how likely it was that the winner was going to end up in Dayton, no matter what. UTSA's opponent is SWAC champion Alabama State, a team that finished five games behind regular season champ Texas Southern. The Hornets are looking to pick up the SWAC's second straight Opening Round win, as Arkansas-Pine Bluff topped Winthrop last season. The reward for tonight's victor is a tournament win share and a trip to Cleveland, where they'll meet No. 1 overall seed Ohio State on Friday in the formerly ignored 4:30 p.m. ET tip-off.
The second half of the doubleheader sees USC, a team that earned a bit despite having three losses against teams ranked in the bottom half of Division I (granted two were very early in the season) against VCU, who also has three such defeats on their profile. However, both clubs have plenty of quality victories, as the Trojans defeated Texas, Arizona, and UCLA at home and Tennessee and Washington on the road, while the Rams topped UCLA at the NIT Season Tip-Off, then picked up wins at Old Dominion and over George Mason in the CAA Tournament. The winner of this one is headed up to Chicago to play six seed Georgetown on Friday night in the final window of Second Round games.
I'm still not feeling great tonight, so I'll again be watching this one from bed. Hopefully, I'll be in a lot better shape to watch games, comment, and tweet when things get busy tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy and leave your thought's on tonight's doubleheader in the comments.