March Madness Kicks Off With First Four Games And Teams Looking To Bust Brackets

Mar 19, 2024, 10:29 AM | Updated: 10:41 am

March Madness First Four Games Colorado Buffaloes College Basketball...

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 15: Tristan da Silva #23 of the Colorado Buffaloes reacts after a basket in the first half of a semifinal game against the Washington State Cougars during the the Pac-12 Conference basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 15, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A year ago, Fairleigh Dickinson played in the March Madness First Four and by the following weekend became one of the most improbable bracket-busters in NCAA Tournament history.

After routing Texas Southern in Dayton, the 16th-seeded Knights — one of the shortest teams in the tournament facing the tallest — upset No. 1 seed Purdue 63-58, only the second time a No. 16 seed had beaten a top-seeded team.

“Anybody has a chance. Anything can happen, no matter what’s going on,” said Donald Copeland, the coach of an injury-depleted Wagner team that opens this year’s First Four against Howard on Tuesday night. “Now our path is probably different, but it gives you motivation to want to hopefully achieve something like that.”

The winner of that game will advance as the No. 16 seed in the West Region to face top-seeded North Carolina on Thursday.

In an unusual twist, the First Four brings together both Colorado and Colorado State. Both finished 24-10.

Colorado was the runner-up in the Pac-12 Tournament and will play Boise State (22-10) from the Mountain West Conference in the late game Wednesday, with the winner moving on as the 10th seed in the South Region to face seventh-seeded Florida.

Colorado State, also from the Mountain West, draws ACC regular Virginia (23-10) in the late game Tuesday for the right to move on as the 10th seed in the Midwest and play No. 7 seed Texas. Virginia has made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 12 seasons under coach Tony Bennett and won the national title in 2019.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to kind of test ourselves and see where we’re at as a program. At this point there are no cupcakes,” said Isaiah Stevens, Colorado State’s top scorer at 16.5 points per game.

“The way I look at this is, we’re a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament and we just get to play one more game than everybody else,” Rams coach Niko Medved said. “That’s a pretty cool deal.”

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Making A Name

Wagner, a school with around 2,000 students on Staten Island in New York City, returns to the NCAA Tournament after a drought of 21 years.

Howard — the Seahawks’ opponent on Tuesday — was in last year, but hopes to have a better showing this time around.

Wagner (16-15) finished sixth in the Northeast Conference during the regular season. After losing their final two games, the Seahawks won three straight in the league tournament, beating Merrimack in the final, despite Copeland’s rotation being down to seven players because of injuries.

In fact, it got so bad that Damen Mazil, the quarterback of the Wagner football team, was added to the roster in February for some depth.

“A small island, and we’re back here after 21 years,” Wagner guard Javier Ezquerra said. “It’s amazing.”

Howard (18-16) was 9-14 in early February but roared back to win nine of its last 11 games, including the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament.

“You go in with certain expectations, and this year was just like really rocky for us in a lot of ways,” said Howard forward Seth Towns, who averaged 14.2 points. “So to come together at the end of the year, like we did, in the last five or so games and then in the tournament, I think it’s a testament to the leadership of the coaching staff and just to the incredible guys who were never willing to give up.”

Welcome To The Show

Grambling State is making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning nine of its last 10 games to take the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Grambling (20-14) faces Montana State on Wednesday for the right to advance as the 16th seed in the Midwest and play top-seeded Purdue on Friday.

Montana State (17-17) is fortunate to be in the tournament for the third straight season. The Bobcats were 13-17 on March 2 before winning four straight. They beat Montana in the Big Sky Tournament championship game to earn the league’s automatic NCAA bid.

Take us with you, wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

College Basketball

Aly Khalifa, Louisville Cardinals, BYU Basketball...

Mitch Harper

Aly Khalifa Thanks BYU For Time In Provo, Announces New Destination

Khalifa is on the move to the Commonwealth.

19 hours ago

Kevin Young, BYU Basketball, Head Coach...

Mitch Harper

Kevin Young Lays Out Top Priorities To Begin Tenure As BYU Head Coach

BYU's new head coach sets the tone for his tenure.

1 day ago

deyton albruy...

Brian Preece

Utah State Men’s Basketball Adds Deyton Albury From Transfer Portal

Former Queens University guard Deyton Albury has announced he will play basketball for the Utah State Aggies during the 2024-25 season. 

2 days ago

Kevin Young, BYU Basketball, Phoenix Suns...

Mitch Harper

BYU’s Kevin Young Will Finish His Phoenix Suns Job After NBA Playoffs Run

The NBA Playoffs begin for the Phoenix Suns on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

3 days ago

Kevin Young, BYU Basketball, Head Coach...

Mitch Harper

Social Media Reacts To BYU Basketball Hiring Kevin Young

The reactions poured in as BYU basketball hired Kevin Young to be the next head coach.

3 days ago

Rice Eccles Stadium general view at University of Utah - How to watch Utah Football...

Michelle Bodkin

Utah Athletics Celebrates Student-Athletes, Teams At Crimson Carpet Awards

Utah Athletics celebrated their stellar student-athletes on Monday, April 15 in their annual Crimson Carpet Awards.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

March Madness Kicks Off With First Four Games And Teams Looking To Bust Brackets