The first two play-in games in the 2015 NCAA men's basketball tournament take place Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. Ever since the men's tournament field was expanded, first from 64 to 65 teams in 2001, then to the current 68 in 2011, the earliest games have been played on the University of Dayton campus.
This Tuesday evening, "March Madness" tips off with Hampton and Manhattan, a pair of No. 16 seeds in the Midwest region battling for the chance to meet tournament overall top seed Kentucky on Thursday night. The Hampton Pirates, owners of a 16-17 record, ripped off three straight wins this past weekend to capture the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament title and the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid.
This will be the Pirates' first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2011 and fifth overall in program history.
Hampton is led in scoring by Dwight Meikle, who averages 13 points per game. Meikle, however, missed the MEAC tournament final due to an ankle injury. The redshirt junior swingman is expected to give it a go Tuesday night, reports the Daily Press.
The Manhattan Jaspers are 19-13 going into the NCAAs, also having won three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament games in a row early last week to punch the league's ticket to the "Big Dance."
Manhattan has been down this NCAA road before, having played in last year's tournament. Overall, this will be the Jaspers' seventh NCAA appearance in their history.
The Metro Atlantic champs are led in scoring by Emmy Andujar, who averages 16 points per contest.
You can watch Hampton vs. Manhattan, beginning at 6:40 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday on truTV.
The nightcap Tuesday evening features a pair of schools that also have some history in the NCAA tournament – Brigham Young University (BYU) vs. Mississippi, both seeded 11th in the West region. The winner gets sixth-seeded Xavier on Thursday afternoon.
BYU, with a 25-9 record, has won eight of its last nine games in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars rely on the scoring of senior guard Tyler Haws, who averages nearly 22 points per game, according to NCAA.com.
The Cougars lost in the first round of last year's tourney, dropping a decision to Oregon.
Ole Miss, out of the Southeastern Conference, last made a splash in the NCAA tournament two years ago, when they knocked off fifth-seed Wisconsin in the first round, NCAA.com reports. This year, the Rebels are 20-12 and have lost four of their last five coming into "March Madness."
Mississippi is led in scoring by guard Stefan Moody, who averages just over 16 points per game.
BYU vs. Mississippi will also be televised by truTV, at approximately 9:10 p.m. Eastern Tuesday.