March Madness is here! Here are the Gulf South teams to watch in the men’s, women’s tournaments

 1618974812 
1710918000
A basketball with a March Madness logo rests on a rack before a First Four game between Illinois and Mississippi State in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in South Bend, Ind.

A basketball with a March Madness logo rests on a rack before a First Four game between Illinois and Mississippi State in the NCAA women's basketball tournament Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Caterina, File)

Michael Caterina,, AP Photo

March Madness is here — that time of the year when people perform their best Nostradamus impression as they fill out their brackets for the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments.

If you’re unsure of whom to place your allegiance to, or misguided hope in winning it all, the Gulf South has a dozen schools — seven men’s teams and five women’s teams — playing for a chance at their one shining moment.

Here are the teams to watch once the tournament tips off.

Men’s Tournament Bracket

No. 16 Grambling State University (Grambling, Louisiana)

Grambling State players celebrate their win over Texas Southern after an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Grambling State players celebrate their win over Texas Southern after an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

While March Madness officially began Tuesday, action in the Gulf South doesn’t start until Wednesday evening when Grambling State University takes on Montana State University in a First Four matchup at 5:40 p.m. on TruTV.

The Tigers beat Texas Southern in the Southwestern Atlantic Conference Championship on March 16, 75-66.

If Grambling wins its opener, the Tigers will be a 16-seed and face the No. 1 overall seed Purdue Boilermakers on Friday.

No. 8 Mississippi State University (Starkville, Mississippi)

Mississippi State guard Josh Hubbard (13) attempts a layup past South Carolina guard Zachary Davis (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Starkville, Miss.
Mississippi State guard Josh Hubbard (13) attempts a layup past South Carolina guard Zachary Davis (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Starkville, Miss. South Carolina won in overtime 93-89. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Thursday is the day of the dogs, starting with the 8-seed Mississippi State Bulldogs going head-to-head with the 9-seed Michigan State Spartans at 11:45 a.m. on CBS.

Mississippi State’s regular season ended with a loss to Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Despite having the higher seed, there are predictions that the Bulldogs will fall to the Spartans because of Michigan State’s tournament experience.

No. 12 McNeese State University (Lake Charles, Louisiana)

McNeese coach Will Wade, center, talks to the team during a timeout in an NCAA college basketball game against New Orleans in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 6, 2024.
McNeese coach Will Wade, center, talks to the team during a timeout in an NCAA college basketball game against New Orleans in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. Wade was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2023–24 season by the NCAA but the team went to a 28-3 record and finished first in the Southland Conference. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Later on Thursday, the 12-seed McNeese State Cowboys get on the hardwood with the 5-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga is the heavy favorite in the matchup, so the Cowboys are looking for an upset victory. That game tips off at 6:25 p.m. on TBS

Making it to the tournament holds a different weight for McNeese, as it’s the first time in 22 years the school has received a bid, after its 92-76 victory over Nicholls State University in the Southland Conference championship.

The bid also means a lot to head coach Will Wade. It’s his chance to win on the big stage again.

In 2022, Wade was fired from Louisiana State University after LSU received a notice of allegations from the NCAA that detailed significant misconduct, including alleged bribes made to athletes.

No. 13 Samford University (Birmingham, Alabama)

Samford guard Garrett Hicks, fourth from right, raises the championship trophy as he celebrates with teammates after their victory over East Tennessee State in the NCAA college basketball championship game for the Southern Conference tournament, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Asheville, N.C.
Samford guard Garrett Hicks, fourth from right, raises the championship trophy as he celebrates with teammates after their victory over East Tennessee State in the NCAA college basketball championship game for the Southern Conference tournament, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Asheville, N.C. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Also on Thursday night, the 13-seed Samford University Bulldogs go up against the 4-seed Kansas Jayhawks, starting at 8:55 p.m. on TBS.

Samford comes into this game hot with a 29-5 overall record and the Southern Conference championship.

This is the first time Samford has been in the tournament since 2000 and they hope to pull away with an upset over the Jayhawks.

The Bulldogs’ bid in the tournament is also special for Bucky McMillan, who is in his fourth season as head coach.

McMillan is a Birmingham native and decorated athlete who played at both Mountain Brook High School and Birmingham-Southern College. After his collegiate career, he would return to Mountain Brook High as head coach of the basketball program, where he coached the team to five state championships.

No. 12 University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)

UAB's Seth Sigmon, left, reacts as teammates celebrate after defeating Temple during an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the American Athletic Conference tournament, Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Fort Worth, Texas. UAB won 85-69.
UAB’s Seth Sigmon, left, reacts as teammates celebrate after defeating Temple during an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the American Athletic Conference tournament, Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Fort Worth, Texas. UAB won 85-69. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Another Birmingham-based team continues the action on Friday, as the 12-seed UAB Blazers go up against the 5-seed San Diego State Aztecs. The game is set for a 12:45 p.m. tip-off on TNT.

UAB goes into this game following a dominant 85-69 win against Temple University in the American Athletic Conference championship.

This season marks the second time the Blazers have made the tournament under head coach Andy Kennedy, who is in his fourth season at UAB.

No. 4 Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama)

Auburn players pose for a team photo after defeating Florida in an NCAA college basketball game to win the Southeastern Conference tournament Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.
Auburn players pose for a team photo after defeating Florida in an NCAA college basketball game to win the Southeastern Conference tournament Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Later Friday, the 4-seed Auburn Tigers go head-to-head with the 13-seed Yale Bulldogs at 3:15 p.m. on TNT.

Auburn is heading into the tournament on a hot streak after an 86-67 win over Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship.

No. 4 University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Alabama guard Mark Sears (1) takes a selfie as he celebrates with the student section after Alabama's overtime win over Arkansas in an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Alabama guard Mark Sears (1) takes a selfie as he celebrates with the student section after Alabama’s overtime win over Arkansas in an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

Friday night, the 4-seed University of Alabama will match up against the 13-seed College of Charleston at 6:35 p.m. on TruTV.

The Crimson Tide goes into the tournament after a lopsided 88-102 loss to Florida in the SEC tournament. They maintained an overall record of 21-11 during the regular season.

Women’s Tournament Bracket

No. 11 Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama)

Auburn's Taylen Collins (14) on offense during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against California on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Auburn, Ala.
Auburn’s Taylen Collins (14) on offense during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against California on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

The women’s tournament tips off on Thursday, starting with Auburn taking on Arizona in a First Four matchup at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

Auburn ended its regular season with a 20-11 record and looks to bounce back after a crushing loss to LSU in the SEC tournament.

If the Tigers prevail, they’ll earn their spot as an 11-seed and will face 6-seed Syracuse University on Saturday afternoon.

No. 3 Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

LSU guard Flau'jae Johnson drives to the basket between South Carolina guard Bree Hall and forward Chloe Kitts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference women's tournament final Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Greenville, S.C.
LSU guard Flau’jae Johnson drives to the basket between South Carolina guard Bree Hall and forward Chloe Kitts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference women’s tournament final Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

On Friday, the 3-seed LSU Tigers take on the 14-seed Rice University Owls at 3 p.m. on ESPN.

LSU is the defending national champion — earning the title last year after beating Caitlin Clark and Iowa in what has, so far, been the most-watched women’s basketball game in history.

Head coach Kim Mulkey retained most of her key players from last year’s team, but the Tigers have had a rougher go of it this year — finishing the regular season 28-5 and losing to undefeated South Carolina in the SEC championship.

No. 8 University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

South Carolina guard Raven Johnson (25) drives to the basket past Alabama guard Sarah Ashlee Barker (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Columbia, S.C.
South Carolina guard Raven Johnson (25) drives to the basket past Alabama guard Sarah Ashlee Barker (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)

The 8-seed Alabama Crimson Tide is set to play the 9-seed Florida State Seminoles on Friday at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Alabama ended its regular season with an overall record of 23-9 after a loss to Tennessee in the SEC tournament.

No. 14 Jackson State University (Jackson, Mississippi)

Jackson State guard Ti'lan Boler (1) reacts after punching the ticket as the team celebrates after their win over Alcorn State in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Birmingham, Ala.
Jackson State guard Ti’lan Boler (1) reacts after punching the ticket as the team celebrates after their win over Alcorn State in an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The 14-seed Jackson State Tigers look to upset the powerhouse UConn Huskies, a 3-seed, in their Saturday afternoon matchup — airing at noon on ABC.

Jackson State’s head coach Tomekia Reed said in a recent article from HBCU Legends that coming into the tournament as a 14-seed is “truly an honor” and that she and her team look forward to going head-to-head with the Huskies.

Jackson State heads to the “Big Dance” after winning the SWAC Championship against Alcorn State.

No. 7 University of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi)

Mississippi guard Marquesha Davis (2) drives past South Carolina guard Bree Hall (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)
Mississippi guard Marquesha Davis (2) drives past South Carolina guard Bree Hall (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)

The final opening round game for the region features the 7-seed University of Mississippi Rebels taking on the 10-seed Marquette Golden Eagles on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. on ESPNU.

This year marks the third year in-a-row that the Rebels have made the NCAA Tournament under head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. Ole Miss recorded 12-wins in SEC play this season, a new program best, to finish third in the conference — its highest finish since the 1991-92 season.

Ole Miss’ last game played was a 75-67 loss to LSU in the SEC semifinals.

NCAA Division I Men’s Opening Games

Wednesday, March 20
Grambling State vs. Montana State | 5:40 p.m. CDT | TruTV

Thursday, March 21
Mississippi State vs. Michigan State | 11:45 a.m. CDT | CBS
Gonzaga vs. McNeese State | 6:25 p.m. CDT | TBS
Kansas vs. Samford | 8:55 p.m. CDT | TBS

Friday, March 22
UAB vs. San Diego State | 12:45 p.m. CDT | TNT
Auburn vs. Yale | 3:15 p.m. CDT | TNT
Purdue vs. Grambling State/Montana State | 6:25 p.m. CDT | TBS
Alabama vs. College of Charleston | 6:35 p.m. CDT | TruTV

NCAA Division 1 Women’s Opening Games

Thursday, March 21
Auburn vs. Arizona | 6:00 p.m. CDT | ESPN2

Friday, March 22
LSU vs. Rice | 3:00 CDT | ESPN
Alabama vs. Florida State | 4:30 p.m. CDT | ESPN2

Saturday, March 23
Jackson State vs. UConn| 12:00 p.m. CDT | ABC
Syracuse vs. Auburn/Arizona | 2:30 p.m. CDT | ESPN2
Marquette vs. Mississippi | 3:45 p.m. CDT | ESPNU

How to watch

Men’s games
TV: Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery’s TV networks will broadcast every men’s game across CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV. Check your local listings for your channel lineup.

Stream: You can stream every game in the men’s tournament using the March Madness Live app and logging in through your TV provider. Max will stream all TBS, TNT and TruTV games. Paramount+ will stream all CBS games.

Women’s games
TV: The Walt Disney Company will host every women’s game across ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPNU and ESPNews. ESPN will air the Final Four and ABC will air the championship game.

Stream: You can stream every game in the women’s tournament using the Watch ESPN app.

 

Once praised, settlement to help sickened BP oil spill workers leaves most with nearly nothing

Thousands of ordinary people who helped clean up after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico say they got sick. A court settlement was supposed to help compensate them, but it hasn’t turned out as expected.

Q&A: How harm reduction can help mitigate the opioid crisis

Maia Szalavitz discusses harm reduction's effectiveness against drug addiction, how punitive policies can hurt people who need pain medication and more.

The Gulf States Newsroom is hiring a Community Engagement Producer

The Gulf States Newsroom is seeking a curious, creative and collaborative professional to work with our regional team to build up engaged journalism efforts.

Gambling bills face uncertain future in the Alabama legislature

This year looked to be different for lottery and gambling legislation, which has fallen short for years in the Alabama legislature. But this week, with only a handful of meeting days left, competing House and Senate proposals were sent to a conference committee to work out differences.

Alabama’s racial, ethnic health disparities are ‘more severe’ than other states, report says

Data from the Commonwealth Fund show that the quality of care people receive and their health outcomes worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s your favorite thing about Alabama?

That's the question we put to those at our recent News and Brews community pop-ups at Hop City and Saturn in Birmingham.

More Front Page Coverage