Earliest start: The NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins in earnest Thursday, with the first-round South Regional game between No. 8 seed LSU and No. 9 Butler in Greensboro, N.C., getting the first tip at 11:20 a.m. That’s five minutes ahead of No. 2 Memphis against No. 15 Cal State Northridge in a West Regional game at Kansas City, Mo., and 10 minutes ahead of No. 8 Brigham Young against No. 9 Texas A&M in a West Regional game at Philadelphia. Of course, the tournament opens Tuesday night with the play-in game between Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Alabama State and Ohio Valley Conference champion Morehead State, coached by former LSU assistant Donnie Tyndall.
Follow the leader: If it’s true that it takes a good follower to become a good leader, Matt Howard was prepared for his new role at Butler. He has long been a follower—the eighth of 10 children born into his family. He was a newbie a year ago on a 30-win team featuring five seniors. But without a single senior on this season’s roster, the Bulldogs needed someone to follow. So they followed Howard, a 6-foot-8 sophomore center, to a place in the NCAA Tournament. To read the Indianapolis Star’s profile, click here.
Early predictions: The Associated Press is picking Butler to beat LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The AP notes that the Bulldogs “are a lot like Xavier,” which beat the Tigers 80-70 earlier this season. Other analysts, including CBS’s Clark Kellogg, are saying the Tigers will lose.