The college basketball feast known as March Madness begins Thursday with a full slate of 16 NCAA Tournament first-round games.
It's the kind of day when sports fans seem to call in sick -- Hey, boss, I think I'm coming down with something -- and post up in the recliner with the remote.
Here is a guide to the best games of Day 1:
You never forget your first, and all that. The juicy subplot in the earliest tip of the day is the matchup of Minnesota coach Richard Pitino against Louisville, the school that fired his famous father, Rick, amid a recruiting scandal. Also an early barometer of the relative strengths of the ACC (Louisville) and Big Ten (Minnesota).
Vegas doesn't fear the upset here, though Vermont is rested, playing close to home, and has a potential game-breaker in junior forward Anthony Lamb. Florida State is a low-key Final Four pick, among the Gonzaga non-believers.
The best individual matchup of the day features Murray State point guard Ja Morant, an electric leaper and passer who's projected as high as No. 2 in many NBA mock drafts (also known as No. 1 in the non-Zion portion of the draft), and Marquette point guard Markus Howard, the sixth-highest scorer in Division I (25 points per game). Howard is recovering from a wrist injury he picked up in the Big East tournament.
Villanova's path to unlikely back-to-back titles -- the Wildcats lost four players to the pros, then won the Big East again anyway -- begins with a dangerous test against Saint Mary's, last seen thumping No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference tournament final.
Wofford is the best team you've never heard of (apologies if you've heard of them). The champions of the Southern Conference lost four games all season (to North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas and Mississippi State) and have a borderline top-10 offense led by lights-out shooter Fletcher Magee. But Myles Powell can keep Seton Hall in any game. Buzzer-beater at midnight, anyone?
*Lines via The Action Network