A pair of conference tournament champions will square off in the opening round of the NCAA tournament when fifth-seeded Kentucky takes on 12th-seeded Davidson Thursday night in Boise, Idaho. The winner will take on either Arizona or Buffalo in the second round of the tournament’s South region.
The game is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. Eastern time and will be broadcast nationally on CBS. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Amazon Prime: If you have Amazon Prime or want to start a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, you can watch a live stream of your local CBS channel via the CBS All-Access Amazon Channel, which comes with a 7-day free trial. Once you’re signed up for both Amazon Prime and the CBS channel, you can watch CBS live on your computer via the Amazon website, or on your phone, tablet or other streaming device via the the Amazon Video app.
CBS All Access: This service lets you watch a live stream of your local CBS channel (most markets included), as well as all of CBS’ on-demand library. It’s ultimately the same as the above option, only you’re watching through CBS’ digital platform rather than Amazon’s. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and then you can watch on your computer via the CBS website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the CBS app.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want an extensive Netflix-like on-demand streaming library in addition to live TV, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including CBS (live in select markets). You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of CBS on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
FuboTV: CBS (live in select markets) is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package. It comes with a free 7-day trial, and you can watch on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app
Note: You can also watch any tournament game on your computer via the March Madness Live website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the March Madness Live app. To watch these streams, you’ll have a free preview before needing to sign in to a TV provider to keep watching, but if you don’t have cable, you can do this by logging in with your Hulu credentials.
Each team is riding a wave of momentum after a somewhat improbable conference tournament victory. In Davidson’s case, the conference title, which the Wildcats earned by upsetting Rhode Island Sunday in the Atlantic 10 tournament final, was necessary in order to clinch an NCAA tournament berth.
The other set of Wildcats didn’t need their victory over Tennessee in Sunday’s SEC tournament final to clinch a berth. But that doesn’t mean the win wasn’t critical for a young team that fell short of its lofty expectations in the regular season.
Each Kentucky season begins with one goal: A national championship. Despite rosters stocked with NBA talent, UK hasn’t cut down the nets since 2012, when Anthony Davis and Co. delivered the school its first title since 1998. This year’s team lacks the talent or experience of that 2012 team. But it bears some resemblance to another UK team that came ever-so-close to winning at all. In 2014, Kentucky limped into the Big Dance as an 8 seed, only to upset top-seeded Wichita State in the Round of 32 and arch rival Louisville in the Sweet 16 en route to the national title game, where the Cats lost to UConn.
This year’s Cats started the season ranked in the top 5 in both polls, and Big Blue Nation’s expectations remained high after UK jumped out to an 11-2 start. Those expectations had faded a bit by the time UK lost four straight in early February. But like the 2014 team, Kentucky’s young talent is coming together late in the season. UK won four of five to finish the regular season, then beat Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in St. Louis to win the SEC title.
Kentucky’s offensive output has been extremely balanced. The Cats (24-10) have five players averaging between 9 and 16 points per game: Kevin Knox (15.6), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (13.9), PJ Washington (10.6), Hamidou Diallo (10) and Quade Green (9.6). Gilgeous-Alenxader leads UK in assists per game (5) and 3-point shooting percentage (39.6). Coach John Calipari said UK will likely be without its leading rebounder, Jarred Vanderbilt, who missed all three SEC tournament games with an ankle sprain. Vanderbilt averaged a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game despite averaging only 17 minutes.
Davidson (21-11) is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Wildcats have won eight out of nine, and their one loss during that stretch was a triple-overtime thriller at Saint Bonaventure February 27. Coach Bob McKillop’s team beat Atlantic 10 regular season champion Rhode Island to finish the regular season, then ripped off three impressive wins in the A-10 tournament in Washington D.c., capped by a 58-57 thriller over URI in the title game.
As you might expect from a school that produced Stephen Curry, Davidson relies heavily on 3-point shooting. The Wildcats rank 10th in the country in 3-point field goals per game (10.7), and 28th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage (39 percent.) Peyton Aldridge, a 6-foot-8 senior, is the team’s leading scorer (21.5 points per game) and rebounder (7.8.) Freshman Kellan Grady (18 points per game) and sophomore Jon Axel Gudmundsson (13) are also averaging double figures in scoring.
Both computer models and oddsmakers have Kentucky as a moderate favorite. The Fivethirtyeight model gives UK a 76 percent chance to win. Sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com have kentucky as a 5.5-point favorite, with an over-under of 143.