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March Madness Survival Guide

NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02: Confetti is seen on the NCAA logo after the Kentucky Wildcats defeat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Today is the day.

Right up there with St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco De Mayo, The Kentucky Derby, and the Superbowl, the first Thursday of March Madness is one of the best five days on the calendar.

Because today carries such weight, such great importance, we cannot take it lightly. We must be prepared.

Pre-game Instructions:
There are two schools of though regarding Thursday viewing. Both require you to skip work. But you should have already taken care of this.

Seriously, skip work. Fake an illness if you have to. Hell, actually get sick. This is not a day you want to spend to spend at the office.

Anyways, some people will choose to spend the day at a sports bar, surrounded by friends, food & drink and dozens of TVs. This is not a bad option for the casual fan. The atmosphere of a sports bar on the first Thursday goes virtually unrivaled, and provides for an exciting day of entertainment and revelry.

But the sports bar is often littered with distractions that could keep you from maximizing your viewing intake. While hanging out with your friends, chowing down on burgers and interacting with the random Northwestern State fan is fun, it’s not the most efficient means of viewing.

The real fan will instead find an abode within local proximity. Maybe it’s your own, maybe it’s your friends’, or perhaps it’s the empty home down the street being remodeled. Just make sure it has a large HDTV screen, comfortable viewing seats, and plenty of space for extra monitors, platters of food and cold beverages. These intimate viewing stations should never exceed five people, and should be located somewhere away from the sun, domesticated animals and significant others.

The Setup:
- Flat screen HDTV w/ surround sound (at least 36")
- Auxiliary television (preferably 22" or larger. HD recommended)
- Laptop
- External Monitor
- Smart phone w/ March Madness on Demand app
- iPad or Tablet (not necessary, but recommended)
- La-Z-Boy recliner or similar armchair (large couches will suffice, but only with a maximum capacity of two people)
- Coffee table large enough to hold laptop, large pizza, nacho platter and buffalo wings

Food & Beverage
If you are going to prepare food, make sure it’s ready to go well in advance of the first tip-off (12:15 p.m. est) Personally, I’d recommend ordering food. It’s easy and time-efficient. Yes, your buddies may criticize you if you order sushi, but at least you won’t miss any game time, and that’s the key. You know there’s a guy out there somewhere who missed the Bryce Drew shot because he was checking on his jalapeno poppers. Don’t become this guy.

Adult beverages should be handled with caution. Remember, today is a marathon, not a sprint. Not managing your intake will result in a serious case of “The ‘Itis”. This is not Thanksgiving. This is March Madness. There is no time for a mid-afternoon nap. You can sleep in April.

The Schedule
With Turner’s decision to stagger-start the games throughout the day, there is no real “dead period”. But trust us, this is a good thing. Old tournament formats would subject the viewer to two hours of local news. We want Madness, not weather traffic updates.

But still, the 5-7 p.m. block of time is when the least amount of action takes place, so if you really need to do something important, like say, picking your son up from lacrosse practice, this is probably when you should take care of that. But if there was ever a time to let your kid figure out how to get home by himself, it’s today. Tell him it’s a character-building exercise.

But seriously, there’s not a lot of time to do any non-March Madness activities.

Thursday Schedule:
12:15 p.m. - Valparaiso (14) vs. Michigan State (3) - CBS
12:40 p.m. - Bucknell (11) vs. Butler (6) - Tru TV
1:40 p.m. - Wichita State (9) vs. Pittsburgh (8)- TBS
2:10 p.m. - New Mexico State (13) vs. Saint Louis (4) - TNT
2:45 p.m. - Saint Mary’s (11) vs. Memphis (6) - CBS
3:10 p.m. - Davidson (14) vs. Marquette (3) - tru TV
4:10 p.m. - Southern (16) vs. Gonzaga (1) - TBS
4:40 p.m. - Oregon (12) vs. Oklahoma State (5) - TNT
6:50 p.m. - North Carolina A&T (16) vs. Louisville (1) - TBS
7:15 p.m. - South Dakota State (13) vs. Michigan (4) - CBS
7:20 p.m. - Belmont (11) vs. Arizona (6) - TNT
7:27 p.m. - California (12) vs. UNLV (5) - Tru TV
9:20 p.m. - Missouri (9) vs. VCU (5) - CBS
9:45 p.m. - Akron (12) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (5) - CBS
9:50 p.m. - Harvard (14) vs. New Mexico (3) - TNT
9:57 p.m. - Montana (13) vs. Syracuse (4) - Tru TV

If you find yourself struggling to make it through Day 1, reach out to @TroyMachir on Twitter, and he will provide you with all the necessary on-the-go survival tips.