Some Americans consider the opening of the NCAA men's basketball tournament a national holiday. While neither President Obama nor Congress has made that decree, Thursday will be a big day for 32 teams as they hit the hardwood in four different US cities as the second round of the NCAA tournament gets underway.
The afternoon session starts shortly after 12 p.m. Eastern with an all-Ohio affair - South region sixth-seed Ohio State meets 11th seed Dayton in Buffalo, New York. The game will be televised by CBS. There are a handful of other interesting matchups that day and at night.
Staying in the South region and tipping off around 1:30 p.m. in Orlando, eighth seed Colorado from the Pac-12 Conference takes on ninth seed Pittsburgh out of the ACC. Over the past 20 years, many of these 8th vs. 9th seed games have been close encounters and this game should be no exception. Going back to 2001, all four No. 9 seeds in that year's tournament beat their eighth-seeded opponents.
Colorado (23-11) finished tied for third in the Pac-12 regular season and reached the semifinals in the conference tournament. Josh Scott and Askia Booker lead the Buffaloes in scoring, each averaging 14 points per game.
Pittsburgh (25-9) finished fifth in its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference following 31 years in the Big East. The Panthers also reached the semifinal round of their conference tournament. Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna are the floor leaders for the Panthers, combining to average over 30 points per contest.
This contest will be televised on TBS.
BYU (23-11) tied for second place in the West Coast Conference in 2014. Tyler Haws makes the Cougars go, leading the team in scoring at over 23 points per game. Haws earned WCC Player of the Year honors.
truTV will carry the Oregon-BYU game.
Oklahoma (23-9), the fifth seed, ended the 2014 Big 12 season in second place. Buddy Hield and Cameron Clark are the Sooners' leading scorers, combining for an average of more than 30 points per game.
North Dakota State (25-6), seeded 12th, was both the Summit League's regular-season and tournament champion this year. The Bison have four players who average double figures in scoring, led by Taylor Braun's 18 points per game.
truTV will televise the game at 7:27 p.m. Eastern time.
Louisville (29-5) is the region's fourth seed and coming off a tournament championship in the American Athletic Conference. The Cardinals have four starters averaging double figures in scoring. Russ Smith leads the way with 18 points per game.
Manhattan (25-7), seeded 13th, won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament last week to secure an NCAA bid. The Jaspers, named for the New York City university's first athletic director, are led by George Beamon's 19 points-per-game average.
The contest will be televised on TNT with a tentative start time of 9:50 p.m. Eastern.
New Mexico St. (26-9) is in the NCAA tourney by virtue of its Western Athletic Conference tournament championship. Four Aggies average double figures in scoring this season, led by Daniel Mullings' 16 points per game.
The game will be televised on truTV with a tentative start time of 9:57 p.m. Eastern.