The scores and results produced during the the 2022 NCAA Tournament have only recently started coming in, but for many college basketball fans there might be a feeling that their March Madness bracket has already been busted. Maybe you had Colorado State making a run to the Sweet 16 or the sweet-shooting Jackrabbits of South Dakota State taking down No. 4 seed Providence, but don’t worry if you did get started on the wrong foot because we’re only halfway through the first round action and there’s plenty of basketball ahead on Friday.
The day starts with a March Madness favorite in No. 10 seed Loyola Chicago taking on No. 7 seed Ohio State at 12:15 p.m. ET in the South Region, as first-year coach Drew Valentine hopes to replicate the success the Ramblers have had making it at least to the Sweet 16 in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments. Ohio State has its own recent history in mind, looking for a different outcome after getting bounced by Oral Roberts as a No. 2 seed in last year’s tournament.
The rest of the early wave is highlighted by action with top teams with No. 2 seed Auburn, No. 2 seed Villanova, No. 3 seed Texas Tech and No. 3 seed Purdue all tipping off before 3 p.m. All four teams are listed as double-digit betting favorites, but the tournament has proven many times before that expecting chalk across the board is a bad bet — just ask last year’s Ohio State team.
Things should get a little bit tighter in the afternoon and early evening with a couple of matchups between teams on the No. 6 and No. 7 seed lines with No. 10 and No. 11 seeds, including one of the early darlings of the tournament Notre Dame. All of those games are expected to have a final margin of one or two possessions, giving fans plenty of buzzer beater potential. The headliners will then take center stage with No. 1 seed Arizona, No. 2 seed Duke and No. 3 seed Wisconsin all helping wrap up the first round action on Friday night.
But enough about who is playing when (you can find a comprehensive TV info and streaming schedule for all the first-round action below), let’s turn our attention to the storylines to follow for Friday.
Coach K’s begins final March Madness campaign
No storyline in the entire tournament will resonate across the entire sports world like the final run for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in the history of Division I men’s basketball. The Blue Devils are a No. 2 seed in the West Region, and their first round game against No. 15 seed Cal State Fullerton will be a focal point of of Friday evening with a 7:10 p.m. ET tip-off. The spot should find the Blue Devils in bounce back mode, looking to establish a form in Greenville, South Carolina, that can set them up for an extended stay in Coach K’s final NCAA Tournament. Duke lost its final regular season game to North Carolina at home and then got knocked off by Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament final. It wasn’t just losing to a hot Hokies team that drew concern but the fact that Duke trailed by three points at halftime and never reclaimed the lead, going on to lose by 15. The expectation against Cal State Fullerton is another win for Krzyzewski’s total, but those expecting Duke to make it to the Sweet 16 are going to be paying attention to how the Blue Devils play on defense.
Getting Duke into a sharper form is of high concern considering the potential second round opponent in West Region, either No. 7 seed Michigan State or No. 10 seed Davidson. The Spartans and the Wildcats play the late game in Greenville with a tipoff scheduled for 9:40 p.m., and the oddsmakers are expecting a thriller between Tom Izzo and Bob McKillop’s clubs with the Spartans listed as a narrow one-point favorite.
Will there be more noise from the No. 11 seeds?
The very first game of the 2022 NCAA Tournament featured a seed line upset with No. 11 seed Michigan overcoming a halftime deficit to beat No. 6 seed Colorado State by double digits. The Wolverines were narrow betting favorites so the victory didn’t ring out like a true March Madness “upset,” but it does spark the interest in more potential chaos from the other three No. 11 seeds, all in action on Friday.
The most intriguing of all the No. 11 seeds is the team that punched its ticket to the first round in a double overtime thriller on Wednesday night in Dayton against Rutgers. Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish outlasted the Scarlet Knights and began their St. Patrick’s Day sealing the win just after Midnight on the East Coast. They quickly hopped on a flight to San Diego and may still be buzzing from the win when they take the court against No. 6 seed Alabama at 4:15 p.m. on Friday in the West Region. The Crimson Tide, listed as just a 4-point favorite, are one of the most erratic teams in the field, capable of beating Gonzaga and Baylor but also losing to sub-.500 teams like Georgia and Missouri. UCLA made a memorable run after barely escaping the First Four and carried it all the way to the Final Four, and now Notre Dame has a chance to play that role if it can get past the Tide.
More No. 11 seed entertainment potential lies with ACC Tournament champion Virginia Tech going up against No. 6 seed Texas at 4:30 p.m.in the East Region, a game that oddsmakers have decided is essentially a coin flip after the way each team finished the year — the Hokies beating Notre Dame, North Carolina and Duke on the way cutting nets in Brooklyn and the Longhorns 0-3 in their last three. The final No. 11 seed in action will be Iowa State against No. 6 seed LSU at 7:20 p.m. in the Midwest Region. This game has plenty of chaos potential as no one is sure what to expect from LSU in the wake of head coach Will Wade being fired by the university last weekend.
The last No. 1 seed takes the floor
Three No. 1 seeds got their NCAA Tournament started on Thursday leaving just Arizona, the No. 1 in the South Region, as the last top seed to take the floor. The Wildcats stood on Selection Sunday as the winningest team in college basketball with a record of 31-3 losses having swept both the regular season and conference tournament titles in the Pac-12. The backdrop of Arizona’s return to prominence is not only the high-flying performance on the floor but the presence of first-year coach Tommy Lloyd on the sideline. Lloyd was hired to replace Sean Miller after two decades of being an assistant at Gonzaga, and he’s garnered attention for National Coach of the Year honors after taking a program that had not finished better than fifth in the conference standings in the last three seasons all the way back to the top of the league and also the sport.
The first game of the Wildcats’ first NCAA Tournament campaign since 2018 will be on Friday vs. Wright State at 7:27 p.m. The Wildcats are heavy favorites in the game and enter the day still as a popular pick to make it out of the South Region. Wright State is coming out of Dayton after defeating Bryant but there’s a big step up in competition facing Arizona’s size with two all-conference bigs in Azoulas Tubelis and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Christian Koloko, as well as a future lottery pick with Pac-12 Player of the Year Bennedict Mathurin. With Final Four expectations and the other No. 1 seeds already finished with their first game of the tournament, Friday in San Diego will be a chance to put another title contender under the microscope.
Friday’s live streaming guide