The Best of the Thursday Games

The Best of the Thursday Games

march madness game

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

March Madness Games to Watch

No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 West Virginia

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

Maryland vs West Virginia preview

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

For Maryland, they need to bring their best shooting games into the first and second rounds as they struggle at times. And they have struggled even more away from home while playing decently on neutral courts. West Virginia has 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 feel early on which team will be more comfortable in this game.

No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 12 Charleston

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

San Diego State vs Charleston Preview

This would be a popular choice for an upset as the College of Charleston Cougars shoot a ton of threes, which is always a recipe for a David versus Goliath win. However, the Aztecs are a pretty solid team when it comes to defending the three-point line and are only allowing 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, third best in the nation, and grabbing 13.6 offensive rebounds per game (also good for third best in the nation). These teams are pretty evenly matched when it comes to assists, turnovers, and forcing turnovers so this game could come down to who gets more of their own misses.

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

  • When: Thursday, March 16, 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 did the Aggies no favors with their setup despite making the SEC Tournament finals and finishing second in the regular season. Meanwhile, Penn State absolutely heated up the road to the Big Ten championship as a 10 seed in their tournament. Big Ten First-Teamer Jalen Pickett has been sensational and received some big help from fellow seniors Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk.

Texas A&M will likely be penalized for its poor non-conference schedule, but this team still reeled off 15 conference wins and that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Like many games, this one could come down to taking care of the ball as Texas A&M averages nearly three more per game than Penn State. If the Nittany Lions can turn those turnovers into points, it could be a nice little seed upset.

8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Illinois

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

Arkansas vs Illinois Preview

These two teams are somewhat limping in the tournament. Arkansas has lost six of their last nine games while Illinois has lost six of their last 10 games. This will undoubtedly be a game where each team’s best players will have to step up in order for them to win. These teams are not deep enough to go to their bench consistently and expect 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. will be the driving force on offense for Arkansas. Illinois will rely heavily on Coleman Hawkins, Matthew Mayer, and Terrence Shannon to do the same for them. Outside of those three for each team, there could 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 16, 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 had inconsistent play from Wendell Green and KD Johnson that really came off last season. They will either be the best player on the court or 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 some role players that could step up in this game like Johni Broome, Allen Flanigan, and Dylan Cardwell. For Iowa, Patrick McCaffrey can heat up while his brother Connor can play a key role as well as a senior with a ton of postseason experience. Expect this game to be unique as it can either be a shootout or a major struggle fest.

Stay tuned for more coverage of March Madness games at Project Spurs.