Warm up that remote. It’s going to be a busy weekend.
Nothing screams March Madness like the mad dash to catch all the action during the first two days of the NCAA Tournament. But how will you know exactly which games you cannot miss?
Here’s a viewers guide to all 32 games on Thursday and Friday. We’ve split the games up into four categories:
No surprises: You can skip this one if you’ve got better things to do
Could be good: Keep your eye on the score tracker, and be ready to switch over if this gets close
Must-see TV: Nearly guaranteed to be a good game to watch, no matter what your bracket says
Upset alert: You don’t want to miss the game everyone will be talking about, right?
12:15 p.m.: E7. Louisville vs. E10. Minnesota — Must-see TV
Rick Pitino’s former team against his son’s current team. Any 7-10 matchup should be fun, but will be a great game to tip off the tournament. Louisville’s defense might be the dagger for a not-stellar Minnesota offense.
12:40 p.m.: E3. Louisiana State vs. E14. Yale — Upset alert
In the battle of the scandal-plagued schools, LSU gets the edge despite its coach, Will Wade, being on suspension. But don’t sleep on Yale, the Ivy League champion. Experience combined with the lack of a height mismatch could mean danger for the Tigers.
1:30 p.m.: MW5. Auburn vs. MW12. New Mexico State — Must-see TV
Auburn and New Mexico State are an interesting match. The Aggies haven’t lost since the start of January. Auburn rattled off a series of key wins before beating Florida, then Tennessee en route to an SEC Tournament title. Plus, we all love a 5-12.
2 p.m.: W4. Florida State vs. W13. Vermont — Upset alert
Anthony Lamb will try to lead the Catamounts into a battle with a Seminoles team that needs to stay out of foul trouble to survive.
2:45 p.m.: E2. Michigan State vs. E15. Bradley — No surprises
Bradley, mired in bad press, managed to struggle its way to a 20-14 season and the Missouri Valley Conference title. Michigan State enters the game coming off a Big Ten title won behind conference player of the year Cassius Winston. The Spartans will be no match for the Braves.
3:10 p.m.: E6. Maryland vs. E11. Belmont — Upset alert
Belmont became the first Ohio Valley Conference school to earn an at-large bid since 1987. The Bruins are more efficient on three-pointers and two-pointers. Maryland forces fewer turnovers than any team but one in the country. Easy call on an upset alert for the team that sent Fran Dunphy out of the tournament in his final year at Temple.
4 p.m.: MW4. Kansas vs. MW13. Northeastern — Upset alert
The CAA’s Huskies will tackle a Kansas team that didn’t win the Big 12 regular-season title for the first time since Jameer Nelson led St. Joe’s to the cusp of a Final Four. This will be a solid game with the potential for an upset if Northeastern’s defense can step up.
4:30 p.m.: W5. Marquette vs. W12. Murray State — upset alert
Ja Morant and the Racers will try to become the newest NCAA Tournament darling. They’ve got a great chance to do it against a Marquette team that ended their Big East Conference slate on a four-game losing streak.
6:50 p.m.: W7. Nevada vs. W10. Florida — Must-see TV
Nevada’s lost just four games all year, and it’s a more experienced and better shooting team than Florida, which finished with a loss to Auburn in the SEC Tournament.
7:10 p.m.: MW2. Kentucky vs. MW15. Abilene Christian — No surprises
Abilene Christian is getting its first taste of the NCAA Tournament, and their first task is trying to take down Kentucky. Better luck next year.
7:20 p.m.: S6. Villanova vs. S11. St. Mary’s (Calif.) — Upset alert
In 2010, St. Mary’s worked its magic and upset a 2 seed Villanova. Will it happen again? Well, they just spoiled Gonzaga’s bid for a West Coast Conference championship. Expect a fun matchup.
7:27 p.m.: W1. Gonzaga vs. W16. Fairleigh Dickinson — No surprises
Gonzaga’s height and experience will probably be no match for the Northeast Conference’s champion, but anything could happen -- UMBC taught us that last year.
9:20 p.m.: W2. Michigan vs. W15. Montana — No surprises
Michigan’s impressive defense and solid three-point shooting will probably doom the undersized Grizzlies.
9:40 p.m.: MW7. Wofford vs. MW10. Seton Hall — Must-see TV
Big East player of the year Myles Powell will try to upset the upstart Terriers, who haven’t lost since December and, according to KenPom, are the second-best three-point shooting team in Division I. Either way it falls, this is a game to watch.
9:50 p.m.: S3. Purdue vs. S14. Old Dominion — Could be good
The Monarchs rarely sees competition like Purdue, but they do have Conference USA player of the year B.J. Stith, a Virginia transfer, on their side. But it will be tough to out-rebound and outshoot the Boilermakers.
9:57 p.m.: W8. Syracuse vs. W9. Baylor — Could be good
Syracuse had some big wins (at Duke) and some terrible losses (Georgia Tech) and now has to try to handle a Baylor team that could have been an equal match. But that was before the Orange’s longest-tenured player, Frank Howard, was suspended indefinitely. That changes this from a must-see matchup to one you keep your eye on as the day winds down.
12:15 p.m.: S7. Cincinnati vs. S10. Iowa — Must-see TV
Iowa, coached by Philadelphia native Fran McCaffery, will have to contend with an impressive Cincinnati defense. But they’re a far better offensive team with much more size. This clash of styles should make this a fun watch.
12:40 p.m.: S8. Mississippi vs. S9. Oklahoma — Could be good
Mississippi lost four of its final six games of the regular season and got bounced in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Oklahoma had 13 losses and tied for seventh in a down year in the Big 12. Either way it shakes out, this will be a slog to get through.
1:30 p.m.: W3. Texas Tech vs. W14. Northern Kentucky — No surprises
Despite being upset by West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament, Texas Tech has had a landmark year -- conference regular-season champions, top-10 AP ranking. Their defense will likely stifle a Northern Kentucky team that struggles at the free-throw line.
2 p.m.: S4. Kansas State vs. S13. UC Irvine — Upset alert
UC Irvine fired off a 13-game win streak to end the regular season and is entering the tournament as Big West conference champion. Kansas State will likely be without star forward Dean Wade. This is a recipe for upset.
2:45 p.m.: S2. Tennessee vs. S15. Colgate — Could be good
Matt Langel, a former Penn and Temple assistant under Fran Dunphy, has brought the Raiders back to the tournament for the first time in more than 20 years. But Tennessee’s experience and size will make it difficult to advance. That said, what’s an NCAA Tournament without a spicy 15-2 upset?
3:10 p.m.: S1. Virginia vs. S16. Gardner-Webb — No surprises
Virginia will certainly be looking to avoid last year’s result. And they should be able to do that against Gardner-Webb in the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ first NCAA Tournament.
4 p.m.: W6. Buffalo vs. W11. Arizona State — Must see-TV
Buffalo had just three losses (one coming at the hands of Marquette, a tournament team) and notched a few key wins en route to their best season in years. Can they stop the momentum of Arizona State, coming off a play-in win over St. John’s?
4:30 p.m.: S5. Wisconsin vs. S12. Oregon — Could be good
Oregon surprised the Pac-12 by beating Washington in the title game, and this will be an evenly matched defensive battle from start to finish. Not a bad way to end the early session on Friday.
6:50 p.m.: MW8. Utah State vs. MW9. Washington — Could be good
The first game of the final session will be a defensive battle (but that’s still better than watching Duke pound on a 16 seed). Washington is led by Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell, while the Aggies have Sam Merrill, who’s been shooting lights out late in the season.
7:10 p.m.: E1. Duke vs. E16. North Dakota State — No surprises
If any team is going to stop Zion Williamson, it’s probably not going to be the North Dakota State Bison.
7:20 p.m.: MW3. Houston vs. MW14. Georgia State — No surprises
Ron Hunter (remember him?) and Georgia State will try to take down Houston, led by former Oklahoma and Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson. The Cougars have lost just three games all season. Georgia State will have to shut down Corey Davis Jr., a prolific three-point shooter. Don’t count on that happening.
7:27 p.m.: E5. Mississippi State vs. E12. Liberty — Upset alert
This might be the trendiest upset pick. Liberty has lost just six games all year, and experts are calling Mississippi State overseeded.
9:20 p.m.: MW1. North Carolina vs. MW16. Iona — No surprises
UNC’s size and talent will probably dominate a Gaels team that lost 15 games and muddled through a mediocre Metro Atlantic slate.
9:40 p.m.: E8. Virginia Commonwealth vs. E9. Central Florida — Must-see TV
UCF ended the season on a down note with back-to-back losses against Temple in the regular season and Memphis in the conference tournament. They’re a better shooting and more experienced team, but A-10 regular season champion VCU has a shut-down defense.
9:50 p.m.: MW6. Iowa State vs. MW11. Ohio State — Must-see TV
The Cyclones have a dynamic offense. The Buckeyes prefer to battle on defense. That’s a recipe for a fascinating matchup depending on which team asserts their dominance early on.
9:57 p.m.: E4. Virginia Tech vs. E13. Saint Louis — Could be good