Salt Lake City NCAA Tournament primer: Teams, practices, schedule, $1,000 local bracket

Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura (21) goes to the basket as BYU forward Yoeli Childs (23) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(KUTV) — Who is visiting Salt Lake City as part of the NCAA Basketball Tournament?

John Stockton's old team, good old Jim Boeheim's current team, some blue chip programs and a team from nearby New Mexico.

Vivint Smart Home Arena houses the first and second round games of the tournament, hosted by the University of Utah. Games in Utah start Thursday, take a day off Friday and finish up Saturday while the Utah Jazz are on their final eastern road trip of the NBA season.

The games in Utah feature No. 1 seed Gonzaga, the team that might be most familiar to the Beehive State. Besides being the alma mater of Jazz legend John Stockton, the school shares a league with Brigham Young University and visits Provo annually.

There are only so many No. 1 seeds to go around with the other three, Duke, Virginia and North Carolina, all staying closer to home, Gonzaga was probably happy to play somewhat close to home.

But the Zags aren't the only blue chip program headed to town. Fans can watch any of the eight teams practice on Wednesday.

Follow this link to play in the KUTV Bracket Challenge for a chance to win $1,000 and to organize your office, school, work or family pool. Schedules for Salt Lake are below.

Team practices open to the public on Wednesday, March 20

  • New Mexico State11-11:40 a.m.
  • Northeastern11:45 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
  • Auburn12:30-1:10 p.m.
  • Kansas1:15-1:55 p.m.
  • Gonzaga3:25-4:05 p.m.
  • Syracuse4:10-4:50 p.m.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M4:55-5:35 p.m.
  • Baylor5:40-6:20 p.m.

Games start Thursday, times are approximate. All games are televised.

  • 5-Auburn (25-9) vs. 12-New Mexico State (30-4)11:30 a.m. (TNT)
  • 4-Kansas (25-9) vs. 13-Northeastern (23-10)Approx. 2:00 p.m. (TNT)
  • 1-Gonzaga (30-3) vs. 16-Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M5:27 p.m. MDT (truTV)
  • 8-Syracuse (20-13) vs. 9-Baylor (19-13)Approx. 7:57 p.m. MDT (truTV)

Saturday games pit the winners of Thursday's games against each other.

  • Kansas/Northeastern vs. Auburn/New Mexico StateTBD
  • Gonzaga/Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M vs. Syracuse/BaylorTBD

Kansas, a No. 4 , and No. 8 Syracuse are sprinkled through the history of the NCAA Tournament, although all of the teams have an interesting angle or two.

The Jayhawks are one of the most storied programs in college basketball history with five national titles, 15 Final Four appearances and over 2,000 victories. In fact this is the 19th consecutive season the Jayhawks are a top-four seed in tournament. In coach Bill Self's 16 seasons, the team has always been seeded at least that high. He said the path through Salt Lake is "hard." His team faces Northwestern for the first time ever.

"Whoever wins our game gets the winner of Auburn and New Mexico State and to me, that's a hard matchup. Auburn is as hot as anybody and New Mexico State took us to the last possession in the Sprint Center which is technically a home game for us so I think that it's hard."

Syracuse is led by Boeheim who is not only a veteran of the tournament but has led his Orangement through Salt Lake in the NCAA Tournament before.

"We figured we'd be out West and that's how it turned out," Boeheim said on the team's official website. "I've seen Baylor a little bit. They're a very, very good team. That's what you're going to get in this tournament."

Syracuse was the top seed in 2010 and won a couple of games before it visited Salt Lake and lost to Gordon Haward and Butler in the Sweet 16. Boeheim was a popular interview.

Syracuse is making its 40th tournament appearance and 34th under Boeheim. It owns a 64-39 record in tournament play and has been to six Final Fours in 1975, 1987, 1996, 2003, 2013 and 2016. It reached the title game in 1987, 1996 and 2003. It won the title with Carmelo Anthony in 2003.

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