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Morning/Early Afternoon Live Thread

Vanderbilt plays at 3:30, but if you’re not watching the early games, what the hell is wrong with you?

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Vanderbilt Commodores are playing in the NCAA Tournament, and that’s something that we’ve only been able to say fourteen times before today.

But unless you unaccountably forgot to call in sick today, you’re watching the early games, so here’s your live thread.

Games on tap as a warmup for Vanderbilt-Northwestern:

  • (5) Notre Dame vs. (12) Princeton (11:15 AM, CBS): This has surprisingly been a less popular upset pick than you’d think, at least among the (admittedly chalk-loving) people I’ve heard. That said, KenPom gives Princeton a 31% chance to win, so there’s some hope for an upset here.
  • (5) Virginia vs. (12) UNC Wilmington (11:40 AM, truTV): Likewise, UNC Wilmington is a less popular upset pick than you’d think — mostly because they’re playing UVA, who (if KenPom is to be believed) is really more like a 2-seed.
  • (4) Butler vs. (13) Winthrop (12:30 PM, TNT): On the other hand, Winthrop is given a 16% chance to win, and Vegas has them as an 11-point underdog — and this is more because Winthrop really has no business being a 13-seed than anything else. But, a spate of conference tournament upsets probably bumped Winthrop up a seed line or two.
  • (1) Gonzaga vs. (16) South Dakota State (1:00 PM, TBS): If Vanderbilt wins, they’ll play the winner of this one, and it’s probably going to be Gonzaga — but you should watch just to see Mike Daum, the nation’s second-leading scorer.
  • (4) West Virginia vs. (13) Bucknell (1:45 PM, CBS): This is a bit weird: four teams playing in the second time slot on Thursday are teams that we’ve played this season. Strangely, aside from South Dakota State (obviously), Bucknell is the biggest underdog in the afternoon games.
  • (4) Florida vs. (13) East Tennessee State (2:10 PM, truTV): East Tennessee State has become a somewhat-popular upset pick among people who probably haven’t actually seen Florida play (but might have heard they lost to Vanderbilt thrice, I don’t know.) But KenPom and Vegas disagree: KenPom gives Florida an 83% chance of beating the Buccaneers, and Vegas has the Gators as 10.5-point favorites.
  • (5) Minnesota vs. (12) Middle Tennessee (3:00 PM, TNT): Minnesota opened as a 1-point favorite, but that’s flipped to Middle being a 1-point favorite since the lines were released. I will excuse you if you don’t want to root for the upset here.

Of course, we’re all ready for 3:30, but are you not entertained?