Picks for Thursday’s NCAA Tournament games: Which First Four matchups are most enticing?

The long-awaited return of March Madness tips off with the First Four round. In past years following the expansion of the field to 68 teams, these games could be seen on Tuesday and Wednesday. Of course, everything is different in 2021, so all four games fall on this opening Thursday. No worries, though — you’ll still get to watch them.

Of course, as busy sports consumers you’ll want to prioritize your viewing for the day to be sure you see the most compelling matchups. We’re here to help.

Standard disclaimer: Any time one has to rank items, one will have to be last. This is nothing against any team on the day’s lineup. In theory, all these contests by definition involve opponents on the same seed line and should therefore be evenly matched. So we hope they’re all interesting, but some have more potential to entertain than others.

BRACKET TIPS? AT YOUR SERVICE: 

  • Common mistakes: Don't make these 5 mistakes to win your pool
  • Expert picks: From early upsets to the Final Four and champion
  • On a roll: These are the 7 hottest teams entering the tournament
  • Meet the 68: In-depth capsules with info on every team 
  • Don't count on 'em: These are teams to avoid picking to go far 
  • Every first-round upset: Easy list of our experts' first-round upsets
  • Stay informed: Our newsletter will offer bracket tips every day. Sign up here!


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