"March Madness" gets started Tuesday night with a pair of play-in games in Dayton, Ohio.
The first game of the 2014 NCAA Tournament features Albany, otherwise known as the State University of New York at Albany, champions of the America East Conference and Mount St. Mary's College of Maryland from the Northeast Conference. The game will decide which team will be the 16th seed in the South region and gets the privilege of playing tournament overall No. 1 Florida on Thursday.
One week ago, Mount St. Mary's defeated Robert Morris to capture the NEC tournament championship and get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers have a trio of career 1,000-point scorers, led by senior Julian Norfleet.
Albany defeated Stony Brook to win the America East tournament championship last Saturday and the league's automatic NCAA bid. The Great Danes have four players who average double figure scoring, paced by Australian Peter Hooley at over 15 points per game.
The second game in Dayton Tuesday night will feature some local flavor, as Xavier University from just down the road in Cincinnati will meet North Carolina State. These two schools are fighting for the No. 12 seed in the NCAA tournament's Midwest region. The winner will play fifth seed Saint Louis University Thursday night.
Xavier just completed its first season as a member of the Big East Conference, losing in the post-season tournament semifinals to Creighton. The Musketeers earned their eighth NCAA Tournament bid in the last nine years and are led by All-Big East guard Semaj Christon, who averages 17 points per game.
North Carolina State fell to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals. But the Wolfpack had a successful regular season, knocking off the likes of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. T.J. Warren is N.C. State's leading scorer, at almost 25 points per game.
Both Tuesday games will be televised on cable channel truTV. The first - Albany vs. Mount St. Mary's begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. The second game, Xavier vs. North Carolina State, will begin at about 9:10 p.m.