The Latest on the first round of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):
NCAA president Mark Emmert was on hand for the first NCAA Tournament regional games to be played in Columbia, South Carolina, since 1970.
The lapse of nearly 50 years came because of the University of South Carolina’s aging arena, but that was rectified with the opening of Colonial Life Arena in 2002. Then, the 18,000-seat building could not host the next 13 years due to the NCAA ban because the state of South Carolina flew the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds.
The flag was removed in 2015 in aftermath of the killing of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, and the NCAA reversed its ban soon after and the school and city bid for a regional.
Emmert said he’s happy with what he sees: “First class administrators” at South Carolina and top-notch people at the NCAA helped put things together, he said, and “things look great.”
— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia.
Iowa and Cincinnati are under way in the first game of the Friday slate in the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 10 seed Hawkeyes can score points in bunches, but they are also prone to getting blown out, making them one of them more mercurial teams in the field. The seventh-seeded Bearcats are a bit more steady, and have a certain toughness common in Mick Cronin’s teams.
The winner gets the Colgate-Tennessee winner on Sunday.
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Other early games include eighth-seeded Ole Miss against No. 9 seed Oklahoma in the South Region, and third-seeded Texas Tech against No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky in the West.
The first round of the NCAA Tournament is set to conclude Friday with plenty of star power taking the floor, notably Zion Williams and No. 1 overall seed Duke.
The Blue Devils play North Dakota State in the East Region.
Virginia tries to avoid losing as a top seed for the second straight year, while fellow No. 1 seed North Carolina opens its tournament against Iona. Mid-major powers Houston and Buffalo also get going while upset-minded 12-seeds Liberty and Oregon are in action.
The first game on the docket is Iowa, the No. 10 seed in the South Region, against seventh-seeded Cincinnati. The winner takes on the Colgate-Tennessee winner on Sunday.
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