NCAA men's basketball tournament tips off at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles

The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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The NCAA men’s basketball tournament comes to the Staples Center Thursday. The first game tips off at 4:47 pm.  It’s been nearly 20 years since NCAA tourney games were played in L.A.                                                       

Arizona squares off against Ohio State in the first game and La Salle faces Wichita State a half hour after the first game finishes.  

West regional games have been played six times in L.A. before - but never at Staples.  The 1994 regional took place at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena and the other five - at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

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Many fans going to Staples to watch the Buckeyes take on the Wildcats may already know they can’t buy any booze. Unlike NBA games, concession stands don’t sell alcohol due to NCAA policies.

Before the games gets underway, people can hang out at Nokia Plaza where the free activities include a basketball clinic hosted by the Pepperdine men’s team. There’s  also contests, prizes and live entertainment.

Today's winning teams will play Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.