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2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Viewing Guide: First Round Friday Afternoon

Pretend it’s a Thursday.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Florida vs Tennessee
Tre Mann and Florida will look to top Virginia Tech in the first game of the 2021 first round.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Chronological Schedule

Friday, March 19, 2021 Afternoon

Tip Time (ET) Site Region Matchup Channel with March Madness Live Link
Tip Time (ET) Site Region Matchup Channel with March Madness Live Link
12:15 p.m. Hinkle South 10. Virginia Tech vs. 7. Florida CBS
12:45 p.m. BL Fieldhouse South 14. Colgate vs. 3. Arkansas TruTV
1:15 p.m. IF Coliseum Midwest 16. Drexel vs. 1. Illinois TBS
1:45 p.m. Assembly Hall South 11. Utah State vs. 6. Texas Tech TNT
3 p.m. Mackey South 15. Oral Roberts vs. 2. Ohio State CBS
3:30 p.m. Stadium (Unity) South 16. Hartford vs. 1. Baylor TruTV
4 p.m. Hinkle Midwest 9. Georgia Tech vs. 8. Loyola Chicago TBS
4:30 p.m. BL Fieldhouse Midwest 12. Oregon State vs. 5. Tennessee TNT

As we all know, this is going to be an unusual NCAA Tournament and that extends to how the first weekend will work. Not only are we starting earlier, but since all 67 games will be played within a close geographic footprint, the traditional four-team pods aren’t in play.

  • Typically, each of the four venues hosting the first round host a quartet of games during the day. However, since there are six venues for both Friday and Saturday, there will be a maximum of three games played in a venue each day, With two courts set up at Lucas Oil Stadium, one-half of the building will host just one game during each.
  • There is a longer break between games in the same building so that it can be cleaned and disinfected before warmup and tip-off. That might lead to some changes in scheduled tip times, at least based on the delay experienced between the Drake-Wichita State and UCLA-Michigan State games at Mackey Arena last night.
  • The entirety of the right side of the bracket, the South and Midwest regions, will play today and Sunday. The left side, the West and East, take the floor tomorrow and Monday.
  • With venue flexibility, you’ll see situations where two matchups whose winners will meet in the second round will play nearly simultaneously. For example, the South’s 3/14 and 6/11 games are scheduled to tip within an hour of each other.
  • Plus, without pods, there’s flexibility in scheduling Sunday and Monday’s second-round games. In fact, the goal will be to have teams play their next games in different arenas entirely, when possible.

With those ground rules in place, here’s a look at the Tournament histories of the 16 teams taking the court on Friday afternoon.

South 10. Virginia Tech Hokies (15-6, 9-4 ACC At-Large) vs.
7. Florida Gators (14-9, 9-7 SEC At-Large)

12:15 p.m. on CBS (March Madness Live game link) at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery with Tracy Wolfson reporting)

Gator rosters have historically been bolstered by Hokie transfers (Kerry Blackshear Jr., Jalen Hudson, Dorian Finney-Smith), but there aren’t any on this season’s roster. Oh well. Florida has won at least one game in each of its last seven NCAA appearances, but the Gators lost their last game at Hinkle (against Butler in December 2019) and their last appearance in the very first game of the first round (felled by Manhattan in a 12-over-5 upset in 2004). Virginia Tech’s 2019 Sweet Sixteen run under Buzz Williams included the Hokies’ first tournament wins since 2007.

South 14. Colgate Raiders (14-1, 11-1 Patriot Automatic) vs.
3. Arkansas Razorbacks (22-6, 13-4 SEC At-Large)

12;45 p.m. on TruTV (March Madness Live game link) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Spero Dedes and Brendan Haywood with Lauren Shehadi reporting)

The Raiders will play their fourth all-time NCAA game—their first with a seeding higher than 15th, but while they played Tennessee close in 2019, they’re still looking for a first Tournament win. As for the Razorbacks, they last won an NCAA game in 2017.

Midwest 16. Drexel Dragons (12-7, 4-5 CAA Automatic) vs.
1. Illinois Fighting Illini (23-6, 16-4 Big Ten Automatic)

1:15 p.m. on TBS (March Madness Live game link) at Indiana Farmers Coliseum (Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner with Dana Jacobson reporting)

The Dragons’ last NCAA trip, the last of a three-year streak, saw them record a 12-over-5 upset of Memphis before losing to Syracuse in the second round. While the Illini are a No. 1 seed, this season’s bid was their first since 2013. This will be only Illinois’s sixth trip to the Dance since 2005’s No. 1 seed and national runner-up finish.

South 11. Utah State Aggies (20-8, 15-4 MW At-Large) vs.
6. Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-10, 9-8 Big 12 At-Large)

1:45 p.m. on TNT (March Madness Live game link) at Assembly Hall (Carter Blackburn and Debbie Antonelli with Evan Washburn reporting)

Last time around, the Red Raiders finished as national runners-up themselves, and they’ll be hard-pressed to repeat the feat out of this South region. While this is the Aggies’ second consecutive trip, it’s been 20 years since they recorded a 12-over-5 upset of Ohio State in the 2001 NCAAs.

South 15. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (16-10, 10-5 Summit Automatic)
vs. 2. Ohio State Buckeyes (21-9, 12-8 Big Ten At-Large)

3 p.m. on CBS (March Madness Live game link) at Mackey Arena (Ian Eagle and Grant Hill with Jamie Erdahl reporting)

This will be the Buckeyes’ third straight NCAA trip under Chris Holtmann and they’ve yet to stumble at this stage under his tutelage. On the other hand, the Golden Eagles last qualified back in 2008 (the final year of a three-season streak). ORU last won a game way back in 1974, when it fell to Kansas in the Elite Eight.

South 16. Hartford Hawks (15-8 8-6 America East Automatic) vs.
1. Baylor Bears (22-2, 13-1 Big 12 At-Large)

3:30 p.m. on TruTV (March Madness Live game link) at Lucas Oil Stadium’s Unity Court (Lisa Byington and Steve Smith with AJ Ross reporting)

The Hawks have quite a task ahead of them in their first-ever NCAA Tournament game, as they take on a Bears team that will look to pair its first conference title since 1950 with its first Final Four trip since that same season. After a pair of upset losses in 2015 and 2016, Baylor has won at least one game in its last two appearances (2017 and 2019).

Midwest 9. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (17-8, 11-6 ACC Automatic) vs. 8. Loyola Chicago Ramblers (24-4, 16-2 MVC Automatic)

4 p.m. on TBS (March Madness Live game link) at Hinkle Fieldhouse (Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery with Tracy Wolfson reporting)

The Ramblers are back in the field for the first time since their 2018 Final Four run, while the Yellow Jackets last qualified (and won a game) in 2010.

Midwest 12. Oregon State Beavers (17-12, 10-10 Pac-12 Automatic) vs. 5. Tennessee Volunteers (18-8, 10-7 SEC At-Large)

4:30 p.m. on TNT (March Madness Live game link) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Spero Dedes and Brendan Haywood with Lauren Shehadi reporting)

The Volunteers have appeared in 23 NCAA Tournaments and have yet to reach a Final Four. That’s the fourth-most all-time behind BYU (30), Xavier (28), and Missouri (27). Tennessee’s recent history has put them within range, as the Vols made an Elite Eight in 2010 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2014 and 2019. The Beavers do have a Final Four to their name—two actually, in 1949 and 1963. But this is Oregon State’s first NCAA trip since 2016. The Beavers last won a game all the way back in 1982.