It’s Thursday, which means it’s one of the most exciting occasions on the sports calendar: the first full day of the NCAA Tournament.

But before we get to that, we’ve got to get you caught up on what happened Wednesday, including a thrilling play-in game between Providence and USC, a triumphant win for the United States in the World Baseball Classic and a couple big performance from NBA MVP contenders.

It’s officially March Madness. Here’s The Cheat Sheet.

USC comes back against Providence, reaches NCAA Tournament Round of 64

DAYTON, OH – MARCH 15: Nick Rakocevic #31 of the USC Trojans shoots the ball against Rodney Bullock #5 of the Providence Friars in the first half during the First Four game in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 15, 2017 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

March Madness is off to an awfully fun start.

At halftime, Providence led USC 44-29 and appeared primed to escape the play-in game and advance to what we all consider the real NCAA Tournament.

But after a Providence jumper to start the second half extended the Friars’ lead to 17, USC launched a prolonged 32-14 run to take the lead with just under seven minutes to play. The Trojans kept scoring, Providence never quite recovered, and USC wound up advancing with a 75-71 victory.

The high scorer for USC was sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright, who scored 24 points on 8-16 shooting and added seven rebounds. Junior guard Jordan McLaughlin added 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Now, the No. 11 seed Trojans will face No. 6 seed SMU, a legitimately scary team that many people have pegged for a deep tournament run.

In other play-in game news, UC Davis beat North Carolina Central 67-63 for the right to be demolished by Kansas on Friday.

Put the finishing touches on your brackets, folks, because March Madness is here.

Eighth-inning homers from Adam Jones, Eric Hosmer lead Team USA over Venezuela in WBC

SAN DIEGO, CA – MARCH 15: Eric Hosmer #35 of the United States, center, celebrates with Christian Yelich #7 after hitting a two-run home run in eighth inning of the World Baseball Classic Pool F Game Two between Venezuela and the United States at PETCO Park on March 15, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Speaking of dramatic comebacks, the United States used one of those Thursday to beat Venezuela 4-2 in San Diego in the World Baseball Classic.

After Felix Hernandez shut down the U.S. for five frames, the stars and stripes trailed 2-0 at the seventh-inning stretch. A Jonathan Lucroy sacrifice fly made the score 2-1 entering the eighth, which was when things really got fun.

The U.S.’ first hero was Adam Jones, who had started the team’s tournament run with a walk-off last week against Colombia. Facing formidable reliever Hector Rondon, Jones launched a deep fly ball to left-center field. The ball carried over the Petco Park fence, tying the game.

Three batters later, with one out and a runner on first base, it was Eric Hosmer’s turn to deposit a fastball over the wall.

Just like that, the United States had gone from trailing to leading. Luke Gregerson came in to close the game and got Victor Martinez to ground into a sharp double play to wrap up the American win.

With the victory, the U.S. is now 1-0 in their pool, with games still to play against Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Wins in both of those contests would seal a spot in the tournament semifinals, while a victory in just one of them would still leave the Americans in strong position to advance.

Quick hits

– The NBA MVP race brings us new drama every night, and on Wednesday it was Kawhi Leonard putting up a big stat line: 34 points, nine rebounds, six assists. Despite that performance, the Spurs lost to the Trail Blazers, 110-106.

According to ESPN, Leonard joins David Robinson and George Gervin as the only San Antonio players to score 30 points in a game 25 times in a season.

He also did this:

– Meanwhile, James Harden put up yet another triple double (18 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists), though he also committed nine turnovers. The Rockets routed the Lakers 139-100.

– We wrote earlier this week about how Vince Carter was still balling out at age 40. On Wednesday, he showed off his quadragenarian hops:

– LaVar Ball continues to dominate the news. Charles Barkley wants to play the boisterous father of Lonzo Ball one-on-one, while LaVar actually did face ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley. Here’s a list of people who would beat LaVar in a pickup game.

– Barack Obama isn’t president anymore, but he’s still making his March Madness picks. He’s got North Carolina to win the men’s tournament and UConn (duh) to win the women’s tournament.

– A judge dropped the assault and burglary charges against Darrelle Revis.

– But former Michigan cornerback and NFL hopeful Jourdan Lewis picked up a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.

– Someone sent Dirk Nowitzki an odd piece of fan mail: a potato with his photo on it.

– Clint Dempsey is back on the U.S. men’s soccer team roster for World Cup qualifiers, but coach Bruce Arena mostly played it safe with his choices for the squad.

– The Seattle Mariners are the champions of digital marketing.

– Rory McIlroy strongly criticized Muirfield for not allowing female members.

–  The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team will boycott the World Championships because players don’t feel they’re being paid fairly.

– NASCAR won’t punish anyone for last weekend’s Joey Logano-Kyle Busch fight. It’s almost like the sport wants to encourage beef between racers to drum up attention…

– You probably had a better day Wednesday than these people.

One last moment of procrastination

This should get you ready for this afternoon.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.