Most intriguing matchup
9:20 pm ET, TBS, No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 9 UConn, Louisville: Is there really a chance Kentucky and UConn could play? Think about the talent on the floor? Is it possible for UConn to turn their season around? Is it really possible that the best team in the country could get upset by the reigning national champs? Jim Calhoun! John Calipari! Mach Madness!!!
That’s what everyone has said about the South Region, but it ignores the simple fact that in order for that matchup to take place, UConn actually has to win their first round game against Iowa State, who finished third in the Big 12. The Cyclones are a talented group of transfers stocked with perimeter scorers and led by the most difficult matchup in the country in Royce White, a 6’8″, 270 lb point forward. UConn has no one to matchup with him, so the question is whether or not the Huskies will be able to take advantage of their size on the offensive end of the floor. Do you trust UConn to execute offensively?
Upsets on the horizon?
7:15 pm ET, CBS, No. 5 Wichita State vs. No. 12 VCU, Portland: Wichita State is not a typical Missouri Valley team. They have size, they have experience and they have a balanced perimeter attack. And while VCU loves to press with their “havoc” defense, Wichita State actually has more possessions per game than the Rams. VCU leads the country in steals and forcing turnovers. They’ll have to do a lot of that if they want to beat the Shockers.
7:27 pm EU, TruTV, No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 South Dakota State, Albuquerque: SDSU is led by a talented point guard named Nate Wolters. The Jackrabbits surround him with shooters — they have three players that shoot better than 46% on the season — and let Wolters go to work. He can get into the paint, he can score and he can find shooters on the perimeter. If Baylor’s sitting back in their zone or if they aren’t buying in defensively, the Bears could be in trouble.
7:20 pm ET, TNT, No. 7 Gonzaga vs. No. 10 West Virginia, Pittsburgh: The ‘Zags got a tough draw here. Pittsburgh is a stone’s throw from West Virginia. Gonzaga is on the other side of the country. West Virginia fans travel well. Throw second-team all-american Kevin Jones into the mix, and Mark Few’s team has their work cut out for them. Kevin Pangos matching up with Truck Bryant should be fun.
Story lines to keep an eye on
9:57 pm ET, TruTV, No. 6 UNLV vs. No. 11 Colorado, Albuquerque: Colorado is the lone Pac-12 team left in the NCAA tournament after Cal was brutalized by South Florida. The Buffaloes finished sixth in that league and did most of their damage at home. This game won’t be played in Boulder.
9:45 pm ET, CBS, No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 New Mexico State, Portland: Even before Verdell Jones’ knee injury, the Hoosiers were one of the most intriguing teams in the country. They’ve beaten Kentucky, Ohio State and Michigan State this season, but they’ve also lost to Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. Now, they are without one of their better perimeter defenders and a senior leader. How will that affect this group?
Oh, and they play too
6:50 pm ET, TBS, No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 16 Western Kentucky, Louisville: It’s an interstate matchup. Kentucky’s trying to snap a one-game losing streak.
Yeah, that’s all I got.
9:50 pm ET, TNT, No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 Loyola MD, Pittsburgh: For Ohio State to have the kind of success they expect to have in this tournament, they are going to need William Buford to be a consistent scorer on the perimeter. No better time to start than the first game. Also, Jimmy Patsos is as entertaining to watch as any coach in the country.