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Let's fall in love with college basketball again, Day 1

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Consider this your Saturday live thread. It's going to be a live thread-heavy day, come to think of it...

NJIT's dancing (sort of)!
NJIT's dancing (sort of)!
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Most of us have had the same complaints in recent years. College basketball has gotten slower and less fun. The tempo is down, the whistles are up, and there's a timeout every 45 seconds or so. A given game could produce 40 fouls and 50 free throws, last nearly two and a half hours, and produce a 68-64 final score. The payoff for following the sport isn't as grand as it once seemed to be. And if you're a Missouri fan, that feeling goes double. Triple, maybe.

The relationship has grown stale, in other words.

But if there's ever a chance for us to rediscover that spark, it will be over the next three to four weeks. March Madness is still wild and fun. Championship Week hits about third gear today, and the first tourney tickets will get punched. So let's see if we can't fall in love witht his sport all over again.

Today's happy link

NJIT is going to the postseason!

The Highlanders (17-11) have accepted an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.

The Highlanders will host an opening-round game, likely on March 16. [...]

The committee also took the opportunity to reward a group of athletes who do not get to play in the postseason otherwise; NJIT is the lone Independent in Division I men's basketball, meaning it has no conference affiliation and no conference tournament to play in.

"We think it's a really neat story," Jamie Kachmarik, the CIT selection committee chairman, told USA TODAY Sports last month. "From a program that didn't win a game seven years ago to where they are now, Coach (Jim) Engles has really changed that whole program and built it. It's something we have very high interest in. … Just being selected would help build their resume with them trying to get into a league. ...

Today's action

This is a loaded day for college basketball. If you're not heading to Hearnes for the MAC Wrestling championships, let's watch some basketball. I've bolded what are the most interesting games to me.

The Good Guys
Missouri at Mississippi State (5:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network)

Conference Tournament Finals
OVC: No. 25 Murray State vs. Belmont (7:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)

SEC
Florida at No. 1 Kentucky (1:00 p.m. CT, CBS)
LSU at No. 18 Arkansas (1:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Alabama at Texas A&M (1:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Georgia at Auburn (3:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network)
South Carolina at Tennessee (3:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (8:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network)

Top 25
No. 21 Butler at No. 24 Providence (11:00 a.m. CT, FSN)
St. John's at No. 4 Villanova (1:00 p.m. CT, Fox)
Oklahoma State at No. 20 West Virginia (1:00 p.m. CT, ESPN News)
Stanford at No. 5 Arizona (3:00 p.m. CT, CBS)
No. 9 Kansas at No. 15 Oklahoma (3:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Clemson at No. 12 Notre Dame (3:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
No. 13 Utah at Washington (3:30 p.m. CT, Pac-12)
No. 2 Virginia at No. 16 Louisville (5:30 p.m. CT, ESPN)
No. 17 Iowa State at TCU (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN News)
No. 3 Duke at No. 19 North Carolina (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)

The Bubble (Or Close to It)
Syracuse at N.C. State (11:00 a.m. CT, CBS)
Seton Hall at Georgetown (11:00 a.m. CT, Fox)
Northwestern at Iowa (11:00 a.m. CT, BTN)
Michigan State at Indiana (11:00 a.m. ESPN)
UConn at Temple (1:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Xavier at Creighton (1:00 p.m. CT, FS2)
Kansas State at Texas (3:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Dayton at La Salle (3:00 p.m. CT, CBSSN)
Illinois at Purdue (3:30 p.m. CT, BTN)
Fresno State at Boise State (7:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)

Other Conference Tournament Goodness
MAAC Quarterfinals: Iona vs. Siena (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN3)
Big South Semifinals: Winthrop vs. Longwood (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN3)
Southern Quarterfinals: Wofford vs. UNC Greensboro (11:00 a.m. CT, ESPN3)
Big South Semifinals: Coastal Carolina vs. Gardner-Webb (1:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MVC Semifinals: No. 8 Wichita State vs. Illinois State (1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Southern Quarterfinals: E. Tennessee St. vs. Western Carolina (1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MAAC Quarterfinals: Monmouth vs. Canisius (1:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MVC Semifinals: No. 11 Northern Iowa vs. Loyola-IL (4:05 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MAAC Quarterfinals: Rider vs. St. Peter's (4:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Southern Quarterfinals: Chattanooga vs. Furman (5:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Summit Quarterfinals: South Dakota State vs. Western Illinois (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Horizon Semifinals: Green Bay vs. Illinois-Chicago (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
MAAC Quarterfinals: Manhattan vs. Marist (7:00 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
Southern Quarterfinals: Mercer vs. VMI (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
WCC Quarterfinals: No. 7 Gonzaga vs. San Francisco (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Horizon Semifinals: Valparaiso vs. Cleveland State (8:30 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Summit Quarterfinals: North Dakota State vs. Denver (8:30 p.m. CT, ESPN3)
WCC Quarterfinals: BYU vs. Santa Clara (10:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)

I wish more of these games were on an actual channel and not ESPNU, but the schedule's a bit too loaded today.

Together, we will learn to love again. Those of us not going to the MAC wrestling tournament, anyway.