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March Madness 2016 schedule: Virginia, Michigan State headline the Midwest

Virginia starts off its tournament early on Thursday, while No. 2 seed Michigan State gets to wait an extra day.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

At first glance, the Midwest region look like a two-team bracket. Virginia and Michigan State won the top two seeds, and they seem to be on a collision course toward yet another game against each other in the NCAA Tournament.

However, there is plenty of quality in the middle portion of this region. The first Midwest game to tip off features Texas Tech and Butler, two teams capable of beating anybody on a good day. The Red Raiders managed a season sweep of Texas and also beat Oklahoma, Baylor and Iowa State, all impressive wins in the Big 12 gauntlet. The Bulldogs spent most of the year on the bubble, but a lack of bad losses and non-conference wins over Purdue and Cincinnati were enough to get them in.

Over in the Denver pod, the Cyclones will try to avoid an upset at the hands of Iona, which ended Monmouth's tournament dreams in the MAAC final. The Boilermakers have an equally tricky matchup against Arkansas-Little Rock, while Seton Hall looks to keep the momentum going after taking down Villanova in the Big East final.

Only two Midwest games remain on Friday, with Michigan State starting its tournament run (and surely out for revenge after being denied a No. 1 seed) and Dayton trying to get its groove back. The Flyers were once heavy favorites in the Atlantic 10, but had a bad run to end the season, losing four of their last eight games. They'll be going up a Syracuse team that wants to prove it belongs in the tournament after some bubble drama over the final week.

Midwest region TV schedule (all times Eastern)

Thursday, March 17

Raleigh, N.C. (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Lewis Johnson)

No. 8 Texas Tech vs. No. 9 Butler (12:40 p.m., truTV)
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Hampton (following Texas Tech's game, truTV)

Denver, Colo. (Andrew Catalon, Steve Lappas, Jamie Erdahl)

No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 13 Iona (2 p.m., TBS)
No. 5 Purdue vs. No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock (following Iowa State's game, TBS)
No. 3 Utah vs. No. 14 Fresno State (7:27 p.m., truTV)
No. 6 Seton Hall vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (following Utah's game, truTV)

Friday, March 18

St. Louis, Mo. (Brian Anderson, Steve Smith, Dana Jacobsen)

No. 7 Dayton vs. No. 10 Syracuse (12:15 p.m., CBS)
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Middle Tennessee (Following Dayton's game, CBS)