GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Get ready for a surge of madness. Across Greensboro, March Madness – our annual college basketball malaise – is about to seize us and keep us rapt for the next 31 days.
We will enter a sort of coma, dribbling on ourselves, no doubt, until after Daylight Saving Time has returned (March 12) and spring is sprung (March 20 – 5:24 p.m. to be exact). When we awaken on April Fool’s Day, only fans of a few colleges will remain alert and vital. The rest of us will feel “Les Misérables,” which, come to think of it, will play out in the last days of this month as well.
That is unless The Boss takes over and changes our focus. But more about that later.
Now down to basketball, which is boss in many of our minds anyway. Greensboro is known as “Tournament Town” for good reason. This March is one of them.
First, you may recall that the Atlantic Coast Conference decided to move its headquarters from its birthplace in Greensboro to Charlotte. Bigger city, bigger airport and all of that.
But we also are big – of heart – and will open ours to embrace first the ACC Women’s Tournament, then the ACC’s Men’s Tournament and then – like a nice dollop of whipped cream atop, well, anything – the NCAA Men’s Tournament will visit for its first two rounds.
All of this is at the Greensboro Coliseum, where champions have been crowned for decades, and these games – 34 of them by our count – will keep us focused – and the traffic on West Gate City Boulevard interesting – for three consecutive weeks.
The women tip it off
The heck with the conference HQ. The ACC is Greensboro. Its men’s tourney has been staged here 28 times, but after the 29th, we don’t know when again (next year it will be played in Washington D.C.). The ACC women’s tourney, which didn’t begin until 1978, has been played in Greensboro every year in this century.
And that event gets underway with three games on Wednesday, four more on Thursday and four on Friday. That’s when the top-seeded teams – Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia Tech and Louisville – will get into action. The semis are on Saturday and the final on Sunday.
The other 11 teams will go through eliminations to see who
gets to play them. If you follow the state schools first, you will want to know that 12th-seeded Wake Forest plays the opening game at 1 p.m. Wednesday against 13th-seeded Virginia.
The winner of that game will play No. 5 Florida State at 11 a.m. Thursday. NC State, which won this event last year and finished 32-4, losing a double-overtime classic in the NCAA Elite 8, is seeded eighth this year and will pay No. 9 Syracuse at 2 p.m. Friday.
North Carolina, which is seeded seventh, takes on the winner of a game between Clemson and Pitt. And the winner of that game will get to play – ta-dah – Duke on Friday.
The men’s games
We will have to finish this week before we have a clue about who will play when as the ACC men’s tournament opens on March 7. All 15 teams will play, and the schedule will mirror the women’s, albeit starting and ending a day earlier: three games on opening day and then four the next two, with the top four seeded teams idle until Thursday. The final is at 8:30 p.m. on March 11.
The standings still could shuffle based on this week’s games. Remember North Carolina (11-8, currently seventh) and Duke (12-6, fifth) close out the regular season on Saturday night, but UNC has no chance to win the title and Duke maybe could tie. Pitt (14-4) as of today has a 1-game lead over Miami (14-5), Virginia (13-5) and Clemson (13-5).
About the only certainties are that defending tourney champion Virginia Tech will join Louisville, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, FSU and (maybe) Boston College in playing on opening day.
You may recall that North Carolina in April made a magical run to the NCAA Final, losing a squeaker to Kansas in New Orleans. Most experts are suggesting the Tar Heels may not even get a bid to this year’s event, unless they win a few more games.
But whoever wins the ACC – or whoever from this part of the country is invited to the NCAA Tournament (Duke, NC State and Wake Forest almost certainly will be invited) – is likely to be scheduled to play its opening game(s) in Greensboro. That also could be true of non-ACC schools from the area, such as NC Central, were it to win the MEAC Tournament.
We won’t know who will play in our regional weekend (or which times those games will be) until the Selection Sunday bracket unveiling on March 12. We do know there will be four games on March 17 and two on March 19.
This is the 15th time that Greensboro has hosted NCAA Men’s Tournament games, including the Final Four in 1974 (remember that one, NC State fans?) and regionals in ’76, ’79 and ’98. There is one twist to this year’s tournament schedule: a free downtown concert, called the Tournament Block Party, with country music star Michael Ray headlining on March 18 in Hamburger Square (361 South Elm St.). Dylan Marlowe also will perform.
On the basketball court, the winners in Greensboro will advance to the regionals in New York, Louisville, Kansas City and Las Vegas and then to the Final Four in Houston on April 1-3.
Oh, and if you are so sad you can’t do it anymore, you can be
Les Miz, as the long-running musical version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel about the French Revolution, is known. That Broadway smash will have a 6-day run to close out the month at the Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts in Greensboro, concluding, of course, on Final Four weekend.
Strings music, anyone?
Oddly, there will be no more string music in March for Wake Forest basketball in the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, but there will be plenty of strings, as in Billy Strings, the Nashville-based bluegrass singer/songwriter.
He will be performing on Friday in a “100th Anniversary Celebration” tribute to the late bluegrass star Doc Watson, a North Carolinian whose birthday is March 3. Bryan Sutton, Molly Tuttle, T. Michael Coleman, Jack Lawrence, Wayne Henderson and Jack Hinshelwood also are on the card.
Then Strings will return on Saturday and perform by himself the hits that have won him a Grammy and entertainer of the year and song of the year at the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Farewell to the Boss
Oddly, many music fans may point to March 25 as the biggest date for anything all month. A week after the last horn of the last NCAA Tournament game, Bruce Springsteen – the Boss – will take command of the Greensboro Coliseum with his E Street Band.
That will be the only stop in North Carolina for Springsteen’s worldwide tour, and you have to wonder if this might also be his last.
Springsteen is 73 years old, and his concerts are known to be high-energy rock-and-roll. He has been performing for nearly 60 years – since 1964 by some measures – and this is his first tour since 2021. He also has produced 21 albums.
One other note to hit
Speaking of music, former “American Idol” competitor Fantasia, a High Point native, is on the marquee for The Soul II Soul Tour, with the Women’s Empowerment Expo, which will be on March 10 at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. She is listed as a “panelist,” along with Ledisi and others. KEM and Musiq Soulchild also will be featured.
The full list
Here’s a deeper list of events, with links to sites where you can learn about times, tickets, parking and other information.
Greensboro Coliseum Complex
1021 West Gate City Blvd., Greensboro
March 1-5: ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro Coliseum
March 7-11: ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro Coliseum
March 12: Hip-Hop Nation Presents: Key Glock-Glockoma Tour, in Piedmont Hall
March 15-16: Greensboro Swarm vs. Mexico City, Novant Health Fieldhouse
March 17-19: Greensboro Importers & Wholesalers Jewelry & Accessories Expo, in Special Events Center
March 17-19: NCAA Basketball Tournament regional first two rounds in Greensboro Coliseum.
March 18: NCAA Tournament Block Party, featuring Michael Ray, in downtown Greensboro
March 21: Greensboro Swarm vs. Capital City, Novant Health Fieldhouse
March 24-25: Greensboro Swarm vs. Raptors 905, Novant Health Fieldhouse
March 25: Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, in Greensboro Coliseum
March 25: Skid Row & Buckcherry, in Piedmont Hall
March 31: Judah & The Lion, in Piedmont Hall
March 31-April 1: World’s Toughest Rodeo, in Greensboro Coliseum
Find out more at the Greensboro Coliseum website.
Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts
300 North Elm St., Greensboro
March 3: New Jack City Live
March 4: Kountry Wayne, “Help Is On The Way”
March 5: Nikki Glaser, “The Good Girl Tour”
March 11: An Intimate Evening with Dru Hill & Jagged Edge
March 14-19: “Ain’t Too Proud, The Life and Times of The Temptations”
March 21-22: “Bluey’s Big Play”
March 23: Buddy Guy, “Damn Right Farewell”
March 25: Greensboro Symphony, with Yolanda Adams Gospel
March 28-April 2: Broadway Series, “Les Misérables”
April 4: Guilford CollegeBryan Series, investigative reporter Ronan Farrow
Find our more on the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts website.
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham
Feb. 29-March 5: Broadway Series, “Jagged Little Pill”
March 8: Trixie and Katya Live
March 10: Nashville Songwriters
March 12: Bull City Food & Beer Experience
March 14: Il Divo, with special guest Steven Labrie
March 16-19: American Ballet Theatre Giselle
March 24-27: Trevor Noah, “Off the Record Tour”
March 28: Tedeschi Trucks Band
Find out more on the Durham Performing Arts Center website.
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
2825 University Parkway, Winston-Salem
March 3: Billy Strings-Doc Watson, 100th Birthday Celebration
March 4: Billy Strings
March 23: USA Gymnastics Level 6-10 State Championships
Find out more on the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum website.
1499 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh
March 5: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes
March 9: Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes
March 10: The Soul II Soul Tour, with Women’s Empowerment Expo, featuring Fantasia
March 11: Vegas Golden Knights at Carolina Hurricanes
March 13: Greta Van Fleet, “Dreams in Gold Tour”
March 14: Winnipeg Jets at Carolina Hurricanes
March 17: Winter Jam 2023
March 18-19: Monster Jam
March 23: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
March 24: “Straight Jokes! No Comedy Chaser Tour,” with Mike Epps, Cedric The Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, Earthquake & D.C., Young Fly
March 25: Toronto Maple Leafs at Carolina Hurricanes
March 26: Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes
March 25: Tampa Bay Lightning at Carolina Hurricanes
March 30: Nate Bargatze, “The Be Funny Tour”
Find our more on the PNC Arena website.
Red Hat Amphitheater
500 South McDowell St., Raleigh
No events this month.
Find out more on the Red Hat Amphitheater website.
333 East Trade St., Charlotte
March 10: New Edition: “The Legacy Tour,” with Keith Sweat, Guy and Tank
March 18: Rauw Alejandro, “Saturno World Tour 2023, with Jabbawockeez
Find out more on the Spectrum Center website.