Wakeup Call: For me, the NCAA tournament does not start tonight

Iona and BYU are the at-large seeds playing for the right to face Marquette Thursday. (AP)
With the First Four in its second season of existence, we are jolted into the start of the NCAA tournament tonight. It's been like this for a decade now with the play-in game all those years before the First Four, but there's more "pageantry" involved thanks to the at-large teams. Personally, while I'll never turn down a tournament game, I love the slow boil of the wait until Thursday at lunchtime. I know most feel the same way.

» Thanks, Gizmodo!

» I know you've probably already filled out your sheet(s), but you'll want to read what my buddy John Ezekowitz has to say about the two biggest factors to predicting upsets in the NCAAs.

» West Virginia has a freshman leave the team days before its game against Gonzaga. All righty, then.

» If you seeded teams based solely upon KenPom.com ranking and performance against teams in this year's field, Southern Miss would be a five -- the same as Duke. VCU would be a three. (Small sample size!) Nate Wolters' team is the only one in the field who didn't face a tournament squad this season.

» The President's bracket page is so damn classy I feel underdressed even looking at the thing.

» Good, simple idea by Jason McIntyre for a breezy NCAA tournament preview.

» It's about the NBA, not college hoops, but wow is this cool.

» I'm in the vogue group who likes Belmont over Georgetown. Plenty aren't buying that.

» "It is absurd, but conferences are nothing more these days than the staging areas for extended television programs, and the Mountaineers are simply moving their show to another studio." As a wise man says time and time again, Pierce is a verb.

» A little surprising that Louisville turns more coin than any other program in the country, right?

» The fifth graf from Shanoff here makes a critical point.

» Methinks this is bad karma.

» The Pac-12 does the right thing with its conference tournament going forward.

» Dan Wetzel spent Selection Sunday with the McCallums and obviously came away with a nice read of a column.

» I very much am looking forward to seeing Dan Monson and his 49ers in Portland on Thursday.

» Mike Francesa has never had his finger, palm, hand or head on the pulse of college basketball. This is dinosaur talk.

» Some quick lil' nuggets of NCAA tournament stats/random info.

» With the spread factored in, look at who the public is taking in the Round of 64 games.

The best dunks of the year in college basketball.

Buzzer-beater mojo is in full effect. It was only six years ago, but it seems like everyone's forgotten about Kenton Paulino. Well, everyone outside of Morgantown and Austin.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his eighth season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics,... Full Bio

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