By REED NELSON
What’s the best way to kick off America’s most-watched tournament? Or at least the most-watched tournament not involving Sean Lowe?
By matching up a 19-16 North Carolina A&T team with a 15-16 Liberty team, putting the game on TruTV before Prime Time (but right after Hard Core Pawn) and then calling it the “First Round,” of course!
And luckily for us (the viewer), the kind correspondence between the NCAA and the CBS family of networks have also provided us with a sequel. I know what you were thinking: Reed, please tell me that this game features a battle between potential 11-seeds! And furthermore, you gotta tell me that one of these teams is Middle Tennessee State. I would die if MTSU isn’t included in the opening night festivities.
If that happened to represent your inner dialogue, than you will be pleased because the game DOES feature Middle Tennessee State. (And if it didn’t, then don’t worry. You’re normal.) The famed Blue Raiders of aptly named Middle Tennessee1 face off against St. Mary’s and The Name. The Name is an Australian named Matthew Dellavedova and he can shoot the basketball. Like, really, really well. And he also has a name that is more fun to say than Francisco.
So, when you see Liberty and North Carolina A&T square-off in Dayton, OH tonight, know that it means only one thing: The Madness has begun.
See: It’s right in the middle of Tennessee, which is pretty awesome. South is an easy distinction to live up to; if you’re low on the map, you qualify. Just ask South Florida — they get to claim “South” and they’re from Florida — how difficult that would be to prove. “Middle” however, that’s not an easy thing to place without the crutch of supremely accurate cartography. But the good folks of Murfreesboro, TN (the real town, I swear. It just sounds made up.) got it right back in 1911, which is impressive. Sorry if you clicked on that footnote and read past the map. I didn’t bank on that. Jump