March Madness Games to Watch: The Best of the Thursday Games

march madness games

March Madness is officially upon us and the brackets have been revealed. Now it’s time to fill out your brackets and it’s time to find the best matchups. Here is your guide on a few of the best games on the first full day of games, Thursday, March 16th.

March Madness Games to Watch

No. 8 Maryland vs No. 9 West Virginia

  • When: Thursday, March 16th, 2023
  • Start Time: 12:15 PM ET
  • Location: Legacy Arena – Birmingham, Alabama
  • How to watch: CBS

Maryland vs West Virginia Preview

This game is going to be for fans of the rough and tumble game as these teams love to play some beat ’em up basketball. Maryland playing in the Big Ten has definitely prepared them for that type of game while West Virginia has generally played that style under coach Bob Huggins for years now. This game will definitely come down to guard play as Maryland may have the best guard on the court in Jahmir Young.

For Maryland, they will have to bring their best shooting games to the first and second rounds as they have struggled at times. And they have struggled most away from home while playing decently on neutral courts. West Virginia played in some of the toughest environments in the Big 12 so playing in Birmingham won’t be an issue for the Mountaineers. We should get a feel early on for which team is going to be more comfortable in this game.

No. 5 San Diego State vs No. 12 Charleston

  • When: Thursday, March 16th, 2023
  • Start Time: 3:10 PM ET
  • Location: Amway Arena – Orlando, Florida
  • How to watch: TruTV

San Diego State vs Charleston Preview

This is going to be a popular pick for an upset as the College of Charleston Cougars shoot a ton of threes, which is always a recipe for a David over Goliath win. However, the Aztecs are a pretty solid team when it comes to defending the three-point line and only allow opponents to shoot 29.3% from deep. The Aztecs themselves shoot 35.3% from there but also attempt 10 fewer triples a game than CofC does.

The Cougars are an incredibly good rebounding team, averaging 40.5 per game, which is third-best in the country, and rake in 13.6 offensive rebounds per game (also good for third-best in the country). These teams are pretty equal when it comes to assists, turnovers, and forcing turnovers so this game could very well come down to who is grabbing more of their own misses.

No. 7 Texas A&M vs No. 10 Penn State

  • When: Thursday, March 16th, 2023
  • Start Time: 9:55 PM ET
  • Location: Wells Fargo Arena – Des Moines, Iowa
  • How to watch: TBS

Texas A&M vs Penn State Preview

This committee didn’t do the Aggies any favors with their setup despite getting to the finals of the SEC Tournament and coming in second in the regular season. Meanwhile, Penn State has been absolutely scorching on its way to the Big Ten championship as a 10 seed in their tournament. Big Ten First-Teamer Jalen Pickett has been sensational and has gotten some major help from fellow seniors Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk.

Texas A&M is likely getting punished for its poor non-conference schedule, but this team still reeled off 15 wins in conference and that should not be taken lightly. As many games, this one could come down to taking care of the ball as Texas A&M averages about three more per game than Penn State. If the Nittany Lions can transform those turnovers into points, this could be a nice little seed upset.

No. 8 Arkansas vs No. 9 Illinois

  • When: Thursday, March 16th, 2023
  • Start Time: 4:30 PM ET
  • Location: Wells Fargo Arena – Des Moines, Iowa
  • How to watch: TBS

Arkansas vs Illinois Preview

Both of these teams come limping into the tournament a bit. Arkansas lost six of their last nine games while Illinois lost six of their last 10 games. This will undoubtedly become a game where each team’s best players will need to step up for them to win. These teams just aren’t deep enough to go to their bench consistently and hope to win. Especially in a one-and-done situation like or in their respective conference tournament games.

Expect Ricky Council IV, Anthony Black, and Nick Smith Jr. to be the catalysts on offense for Arkansas. Illinois will rely heavily upon Coleman Hawkins, Matthew Mayer, and Terrence Shannon to do the same for them. Outside of those three for each team, there may be a defensive X-Factor that could tilt this game like Makhi Mitchell or Jalen Graham for Arkansas or Dain Dainja and Sencire Harris for Illinois.

No. 8 Iowa vs No. 9 Auburn

  • When: Thursday, March 16th, 2023
  • Start Time: 6:50 PM ET
  • Location: Legacy Arena – Birmingham, Alabama
  • How to watch: TNT

Iowa vs Auburn Preview

This is a classic 8/9 toss-up game and will come down to guard play for Auburn and frontcourt play for Iowa. The Tigers have had uneven play from Wendell Green and KD Johnson really dating back to last season. They will either be the best players on the court or will be the reason Auburn loses a game. There is almost no in-between for them. Meanwhile, Iowa needs Kris Murray and Filip Rebraca to have good games to win this one.

Auburn has a few role players who might step up in this game like Johni Broome, Allen Flanigan, and Dylan Cardwell. For Iowa, Patrick McCaffrey could get hot while his brother Connor could play a key role as well as a senior who has a ton of postseason experience. Expect this game to get weird as it could become a shootout or a major struggle fest.

Stay tuned for more March Madness games coverage on Project Spurs.


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