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NCAA Basketball March Madness

Top 5 Games to Watch on Day One of the 2013 NCAA Tournament

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Must-Watch Games On Opening Day of 2013 NCAA Tournament

NCAA
Brian Spurlock- USA TODAY Sports

Besides Selection Sunday the most anticipated day of the college basketball season has to be the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

The first Thursday of the tournament has to be the pinnacle of the opening weekend with a full slate of 16 games scheduled. It's an excuse to ignore work completely and sneak peeks at the games being streamed online. Hopes of a perfect bracket are busted throughout the day but that's what makes March Madness such a special event. Once you are in you have a chance, no matter what seed you were given. This year especially, the bracket is one of the hardest ones to foresee with so much parity and unpredictability throughout the season.

Although day one of the NCAA Tournament brings excitement it can also provide some snoozers with the top seeds easily dispatching their lower seeded opponents. Of course there will be that one top seed that is tested but ultimately the games play out like they normally do every season.

With that said, day one will also have plenty of enticing matchups worth keeping an eye on and skipping work to watch. There are a few 5/12 games that will be very intriguing and seeing that there is usually a 12 over 5 upset each year, those games are usually one of the more watched contests due to trendy upset picks. This year is no different as the No. 12 seeds are more talented than ever and they will pose tremendous upset threats.

There really is no better time of the season for college basketball fans and the tournament is finally upon us. As you get ready to sit back and watch the opening round here the five best games to catch on Thursday.

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No. 8 Pittsburgh vs. No. 9 Wichita State

State
Debby Wong- USA TODAY Sports

Time and TV: 1:40 p.m. EST on TBS

This may not be the most eye catching game of the day but it's one that features a tremendous coaching matchup.

Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon vs. Wichita State's Gregg Marshall is one of the better coaching battles on opening day and the two have plenty of accolades to boast about between them. Dixon has won two Big East titles during his time at Pitt and each of his team's showcase the same blue-collar work ethic year in and year out. Marshall is one of those coaches that are on the rise and this year's team is probably his best achievement. The Shockers lost four starters and their five leading scorers from last season's team but somehow still managed to finish second in their league and earn a tournament bid.

Both teams play extremely hard and this will be a fierce defensive battle that may not be the flashiest opening game to watch but for the purists it will be one of the better matchups on Thursday

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No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 California

Cal
Kelly L. Cox- USA TODAY Sports

Time and TV: 7:27 p.m. EST on Tru TV

The 5/12 matchups are always must-watch games on the first two days of the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. They are always a trendy pick for an upset and this game should not be any different.

Both teams have a chip on their shoulders and will be playing with a sense of urgency. UNLV narrowly missed out on winning the Mountain West tournament on their home floor but they fell short. Cal was on the other end of the spectrum as they went into the Pac 12 tournament as one of the hottest teams in the conference but got bounced in their first game.

Tremendous player matchups all over the floor in this one as Cal's Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs form one of the top scoring backcourts in the tournament while UNLV's Anthony Bennett is a solid all-around player. UNLV beat Cal earlier this season so that is something worth noting as the two square off again with much more on the line.

The underlying factor in this game is the location as San Jose is in the heart of Cal's alumni base in the technology-rich Silicon Valley. Despite being the lower seed Cal will likely have the fan advantage, something that could play a factor in the outcome.

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No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 11 Belmont

Belmont
Casey Sapio- USA TODAY Sports

Time and TV: 7:20 p.m. EST on TNT

This is one of the trendy upset picks on most people's bracket so it will be one of the more watched games on day one.

Why is this such a common upset pick? Well, Arizona has not played well outside of Tucson since Early February, only going 2-4 since Valentine's Day, and they have been rather average to say the least. They showed flashes of the team that was once ranked in the top five during the Pac 12 tournament but they have been rather unimpressive otherwise. Belmont shoots plenty of three pointer's which can be a good thing and a bad thing. If they're hitting from outside they can play with anyone in the country but if they are off they frankly don't have much of a chance.

Where Arizona has the distinct advantage is inside the paint as Belmont does not have one starter who is over 6-foot-7. The Wildcats should be able to take advantage down low throughout the game in order to counteract Belmont's efficient outside scoring.

This should be a good one.

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No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12 Oregon

Oregon
Peter Aiken- USA TODAY Sports

Time and TV: 4:40 p.m. EST on TNT

Oklahoma State had to be happy with the No. 5 seed they were given on Selection Sunday until Oregon popped up as their No. 12 seed opponent.

A team that won their conference tournament, came in second place in the regular season and was ranked in the final AP poll earned just a 12 seed and it sets up an enticing 5/12 matchup. Oregon will have motivation on their side heading into the game due to their poor seeding but Oklahoma State will also have a chip on their shoulder as all the chatter heading into the game surrounds the Ducks.

Big 12 Player of the Year and standout freshman Marcus Smart headlines a team that has its highest seed in eight years and comes in on a roll winning 11 of their final 13 games of the regular season. They were bounced in the semifinals of the conference tournament but the Cowboys have plenty of confidence and motivation to prove that they are not upset prone, like many people are predicting.

Seeding aside, all that matters now is how the teams perform on the big stage and that's why this one should be one of the better games on opening day.

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No. 8 Colorado State vs. No. 9 Missouri

Mizzou
Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

Time and TV: 9:20 p.m. EST on TBS

This will easily be the best game on Thursday and could possibly be the best game in the entire second round.

Missouri is probably one of the better No. 9 seeds in recent memory as far as talent and potential goes. They have had their struggles this season but that does not put a damper on their chances to make a run. Colorado State returned almost every key component of last season's NCAA Tournament team and they are senior-heavy, which is beneficial at this time of the year. Even with a new head coach, Larry Eustachy, the Rams had one of their best, if not the best season, in school history.

The team that wins the rebounding battle will likely be the team that wins this game. Missouri is the second best rebounding team in the country while Colorado State is right behind them ranked fourth. CSU is tremendous on the offensive glass so if the Tigers can hold them at bay they will likely move on to the next round.

Colorado State believed they deserved a higher seed than the No. 8 that they were given but they will have to win in order to validate that thought. A loss would be a very disappointing finish to a tremendous season and that's why this should be the most competitive game of the opening round.