710 days later, NCAA Tournament is back with ‘First Four’

The NCAA Tournament returned to the big stage with a small first step, proving it can still showcase tight games and generate real excitement, even in mostly empty arenas. A 710-day hiatus caused by the pandemic officially ended with the tournament’s ‘First Four’ games — contests that will launch UCLA, Drake, Texas Southern and Norfolk State into the 64-team main bracket that begins play Friday. “I feel like I’m on top of the world,” said John Walker III, who led Texas Southern with 19 points. The feeling may not last long, since all ‘First Four’ winners now face higher seeds..