2023 NCAA Tournament brackets have already been busted all over the country with historic upsets as the March Madness picture has been shaken up after the first day of first-round action. Whether it’s the tournament’s 11th No. 15 seed-over-2 upset with Princeton taking down Arizona or No. 13seed Furman downing No. 4 seed Virginia with last-second heroics, all the thrills of this glorious tournament were on display. The good news? We still have another 16 games to go on Friday.
The day that gets started with No. 7 seed Michigan State taking on No. 10 seed USC in the East Region, which will be the busiest corner of the bracket for Friday with six games on the schedule including No. 1 seed Purdue taking on No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson. The East Region is also where the last remaining No. 2 seed will play as Marquette begins its tournament campaign against No. 15 seed Vermont after the conclusion of that Michigan State-USC opener.
All four No. 3-seeds will be in action as well, and there’s plenty more mid-bracket madness set to unfold as the first round is completed on Friday. Here’s some big storylines to track heading into the day.
LIVE updates: Follow along with live scores and highlights in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
Rick Pitino squares off against one of Big East’s best
The Albany, New York, pod is loaded with plenty of intriguing games, including the defensive battle of Saint Mary’s-VCU and a couple late-night tips from the Midwest Region with upset potential as No. 4 seed Indiana faces No. 13 seed Kent State and No. 5 seed Miami squares off against No. 12 seed Drake. But the game in this building that will provide palpable energy is No. 4 seed UConn going up against No. 13 seed Iona. Albany is about a two-hour drive from both campuses, and the Huskies have their eyes set on a deep run in this tournament after a strong but streaky regular season. Standing opposite UConn is Rick Pitino and Iona, and there is buzz that the Gaels head coach could be a top candidate for one of the open Big East jobs at either St. John’s or Georgetown. Pitino returning to a major conference could be one of the biggest stories of the coaching carousel, and the potential of the move gives great undertones to this battle with UConn set in the Northeast.
Pitt, Arizona State look to capture First Four magic
In the 12 previous NCAA Tournaments since the field was expanded to 68 and the First Four was added, there have been 10 years where a team has won in Dayton and gone on to win its first-round game. No. 11-seed Pitt has an extra day of rest after squeaking past Mississippi State on Tuesday, setting up a Midwest Region matchup with No. 6 seed Iowa State. And while No. 11 seed Arizona State might be playing on less rest, the Sun Devils were never stressed as they rolled to a 98-73 win against Nevada on Wednesday. Bobby Hurley’s team also gets to play in the final game of the day, taking on 6-seed TCU in Denver.
Game of the Day: No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 FAU
Pour an extra cup of coffee to make sure you can stay up for this East Region 8-9 matchup because this is the best No. 8 seed going up against the best No. 9 seed in the field, and either one of these teams could be a threat to 1-seed Purdue in the second round. FAU is a fun team that utilizes a deep rotation with a ton of shooters, riding that offensive prowess to a 31-3 record beating teams by an average of 13.8 points per game. The Owls rank top 40 in how often they shoot 3-pointers and top 30 in how often they make them (37.2%) with four players who all average close to 40% from behind the arc. Memphis just flexed its potential with a win against Houston in the AAC Tournament championship game, and the guard-forward tandem of Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams is as good as any you’ll find in the East Region. The Tigers have a relentless defense that creates turnovers and high-scoring games, like the 91-88 thriller they played against No. 1 overall seed Alabama earlier this season in Tuscaloosa.
Check out the full TV and streaming schedule for Friday’s 2023 NCAA Tournament action below.