Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

First Big Day Of NCAA Tournament Begins With 16 Games

San Diego State forward Malik Pope practices for the team's NCAA men's college basketball tournament first-round game Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Wichita, Kan.
Associated Press
San Diego State forward Malik Pope practices for the team's NCAA men's college basketball tournament first-round game Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Wichita, Kan.
First Big Day Of NCAA Tournament Begins With 16 Games
First Big Day Of NCAA Tournament Begins With 16 Games GUEST: Mark Zeigler, sportswriter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

>>> I am Maureen Cavanaugh it is Thursday, March 15. Our top story on midday addition, to the surprise and delight of San Diego Aztecs fans, the team will play in tonight's first game of the NCAA men's basket ball tournament the surprise is that only a month ago it was unlikely the Aztecs would be included in the tournament. As it turns out, the Aztecs are in and the city of San Diego is doing in the tournament. Games are tomorrow and Sunday at the for a house arena. Joining me a sports writer with the San Diego Union Tribune who is in Wichita Kansas for tonight's first game and Mark welcome to the show. Remind us if you would how the Aztecs made it to the tournament. They were 13-10 only a month ago. >> It is funny because in college basketball today the Cinderella's are slowly dying as power conference gets more more teams in tournaments and have more money behind basketball, you don't see the Cinderella mid-major type teams too much. They won nine straight games at the end of the season including the conference in Las Vegas. They won the conference tournament and got end. >>> the Aztecs are playing the cougars at the University of Houston in Wichita. How did the team stack up here? Speaking if you look at the rankings and computer analytics and metrics, the Aztecs are much higher than San Diego State. But one thing that San Diego State has that Houston does not is tournament experience. For players on San Diego State, Polk, all of them have played in the tournament before either was San Diego State or other schools before they came to San Diego state. It is a different deal. It's a different tournament. It's a longer timeout, it is completely different from regular season game. I think that will help them. Is it tough to become a real physical testing we will find out. >>> Steve Fisher retired last year how big of a test this is for the rookie coach ? >> not much. He has been on the side for quarter-century. But when you see him, he has moved 18 inches over to the Head Coach receipt, they always say that head coaches make decisions and becomes much tougher. He made a bold decision in the championship game late in the championship game for the Mountain West tournament.'s starters are getting tired and they fell behind six points per he put into little used reserves who played sometimes not at all during the season and they delivered. It was a bold move. If you could do that on the conference tournament, I don't think you'll be too shy and at risk. I think he's in good risk best Goshay. >>> If the Aztecs move on who they play next ? >> they play the winner of Michigan and Montana. If Michigan wins, they are a better seed. Most people expect them to win. It is an emotional game for Brian and Steve who is here watching the games. Keith Fisher and Brian both coached at Michigan for quite some time in the 80s or 90s and won a national championship there and made two other trips to the championship game. And then he was fired amid scandal but never was directly implicated in the scandal. There is some bitterness there I think for most of those guys it would be pretty emotional night. >>> Speaking of scandal that was fear that Malika hope might not play in the tournament. He was caught up in reports of an FBI probe of NCAA corruption. How was he cleared? Be in the FBI has investigating college basketball for several years. They announced an indictment against Jeff Timber. Recently in sports, documents were gotten a hold of from the NBA agent who was loaning money to players in hopes that when they turned pro they would try that agency. Malika Pope was listed as having received $1400. Not much compared to other players. San Diego State sat him out of the game originally and had him stay home from a road trip. To their credit, they took a lot of time trying to decide if this was a valid or if there was any viability to these allegations and determined that there was it. They look through him and his family and tried to find any information they could not. >>> As we said before, you are in Wichita waiting for the game with the Aztecs. Tomorrow the NCAA tournament comes to San Diego. What games are being played here. >> San Diego State comes to Wichita. Wichita State comes to San Diego. The reason is because they have the sites around the country. You are not allowed to play in her home city. That is the only role. Wichita State could not play here. So they swapped as the way it worked out. That is one of the marquees Auburn for the Southeast conference is also here. It is a long day of basketball for games on Friday and two more on Sunday. It is really become a basketball town. You are seeing teams around the country you normally don't see. Yours in small teams and big teams in different styles for a basketball fan it is quite the day. >>> I've been speaking with Mark Ziegler sportswriter. Thank you very much, Mark. >> My pleasure any time.

The first major slate of NCAA Tournament games is set to begin as fans scramble to fill out brackets and get ready for a marathon of college hoops.

Sixteen games are scheduled for Thursday, starting with Oklahoma's Trae Young, the nation's leader in scoring and assists, leading the 10th-seeded Sooners against No. 7 seed Rhode Island. The 11th-seeded San Diego State Aztecs play No. 6 seed Houston Cougars in Wichita.

The other early games match Tennessee against Wright State, Gonzaga vs. UNC-Greensboro and Penn against Kansas.

Two No. 1 seeds play Thursday: Kansas in the Midwest Region and Villanova in the East Region. Villanova opens against Radford at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.

Fans across the United States get in on March Madness like no other set of playoffs in sports, filling out brackets and joining office pools that challenge them to pick the winner of all the games.

Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, Texas Southern and Radford won their way into the round of 64 by winning First Four games in Dayton, Ohio.

Half the remaining field plays Thursday and another 16 opening round games will be played Friday.

Four of Friday’s games will be played at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena. The first game puts 4th-seed Wichita State against Marshall at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. That game will be followed by Murray State vs. West Virginia. Later in the day, Charleston and Auburn will tip off in a game beginning at 4:27 p.m. PST. The last game of the day will feature New Mexico State vs. Clemson.

The second round will include two games at Viejas on Sunday.

Longtime San Diego sports anchor Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton said hosting some of the NCAA Tournament games is not only good for SDSU, but also for the city.

“It’s a great message for the whole country to see the beauty of our city, to see the greatness of our campus and to see this basketball facility, which will be rocking,” Hamilton said.

First Big Day Of NCAA Tournament Begins With 16 Games
The first major slate of NCAA Tournament games is set to begin as fans scramble to fill out brackets and get ready for a marathon of college hoops.

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.