Thirty-two college basketball teams will hit the floor running on Thursday afternoon and evening, as the 2015 NCAA men's tournament gets fully underway at a handful of regional sites across the country.
The Cyclones, winners of the Big 12 postseason tournament, are 25-8. They have five players who average double figures in scoring, led by Georges Niang at 15 points per game.
The Blazers are 19-14, having won the Conference USA postseason tournament to reach the NCAA tourney. UAB's leading scorer is junior guard Robert Brown, averaging 13 points a game.
Texas, seeded 11th in the Midwest region, will meet No. 6 seed Butler in Pittsburgh. The Longhorns finished the season with a 20-13 mark, losing five of their last eight games. They are led in scoring by sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor, who averages 13 points a game.
Butler comes into the contest with a 22-10 record, finishing in a tie for second place during the Big East regular season. The Bulldogs, famously remembered for reaching consecutive NCAA championship games in 2010 and 2011, are led in scoring by junior guard Kellen Dunham at 16 points per game.
You can see the Texas-Butler game, starting at approximately 2:45 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
UCLA, also an 11th seed, will face Southern Methodist University (SMU), seeded sixth, in the South region in Louisville. The Bruins did reach the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament last week, but lost to eventual champion Arizona. UCLA was 20-13 this season, but suffered through a five-game losing streak in December and early January. The skid was punctuated by a nationally-televised, 39-point loss to No. 1 Kentucky and ended with a 32-point defeat at Utah.
Senior guard Norman Powell leads the Bruins in scoring at 16 points per game. Sophomore guard Bryce Alford, son of UCLA head coach and former Indiana NCAA champ Steve Alford, chips in with 15 points per game.
SMU is coached by Larry Brown, whose Kansas team won the 1988 NCAA title. Brown also coached at UCLA from 1979 to 1981, taking the Bruins to the 1980 NCAA championship game where they lost to Louisville.
The Mustangs are 27-6 and coming off a tournament championship in the American Athletic Conference last weekend. They are led in scoring by junior guard Nic Moore, averaging 14 points per contest.
UCLA vs. SMU can be seen at approximately 3:10 p.m. Eastern on truTV.
Moving to the evening session, Villanova, the Big East champion and top seed in the East region, will take on No. 16 seed Lafayette in Pittsburgh. You can watch that game, beginning at 6:50 p.m. Eastern on TBS.
Then, we have a No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed game – traditionally one of the tighter contests in the tournament: North Carolina State versus Louisiana State University (LSU) in this East region matchup, also from Pittsburgh. The Wolfpack, out of the ACC, are 20-13. Their leading scorer is junior guard Trevor Lacey, averaging 15 points per game.
N.C. State and LSU will play at approximately 9:20 p.m. Eastern on TBS.
One of the evening's final games will be tournament overall and Midwest No. 1 seed Kentucky taking on No. 16 seed Hampton, who defeated Manhattan Tuesday night in an NCAA "First Four" contest.
Kentucky and Hampton, playing in Louisville - UK's second home, can be seen on CBS, beginning at approximately 9:40 p.m. Eastern.