Most intriguing matchup
9:40 pm ET, TBS, No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 6 Cincinnati, Nashville: Florida State is as tough of a defensive team as you are going to come across at this level of basketball. And while their offense is inconsistent, they are good enough to be one of the more spurtable teams in the country; they make it difficult enough for you to score that when their offense does put it together, they are capable of making some nice runs.
The Bearcats, on the other hand, are another one of those teams that likes to put four guards on the perimeter, pressure the ball defensively and get up a lot of threes. IT makes them entertaining to watch, especially if those threes are going down. The key, however, is going to be whether or not Cincinnati gets the ball inside to Yancy Gates. When he is getting touches and scoring points, he’s more active and it makes Cincy a better team.
Upsets on the horizon?
12:15 pm ET, CBS, No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 11 NC State, Columbus: The Wolfpack have gotten hot at the right time. After making a nice little run through the ACC tournament, NC State soundly beat a good San Diego State team in the opening round. CJ Leslie and Richard Howell are playing as well as they ever have right now, which will put pressure on Georgetown’s front line. The best matchup? Otto Porter and CJ Leslie.
2:45 pm ET, CBS, No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 9 St. Louis, Columbus: The Billikens actually matchup fairly well with the Spartans. They also have the one coach that can hang his hat on the same mantle as Tom Izzo when it comes to in-game coaching ability and unexpected tournament success. No one expected the Billikens to get past Memphis. They are playing with house money, and that makes them a dangerous team.
6:10 pm ET, TNT, No. 7 Florida vs. No. 15 Norfolk State, Omaha: Norfolk State upset Missouri on Thursday. We all saw it. And the reason they were able to do so was that they matched well with the Tigers. Kyle O’Quinn is an NBA caliber center and he is surrounded with four talented, big guards. That means that Norfolk State also matches up well with Florida. The Spartans will have to play a perfect game to beat the Gators, but hey, they’ve done it once this week already.
Story lines to keep an eye on
5:15 pm ET, CBS, No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Creighton, Greensboro: It’s hard to imagine that two all-american college basketball players in the same class would both come out of Ames, IA. It’s harder still to imagine that both of those all-american basketball players would play on the same team in high school, but that is precisely the case with Harrison Barnes and Doug McDermott. Beyond that story line that has been mentioned and written too many times to count this week, both the Tar Heels and the Blue Jays have a powerhouse offensive attack. There should be plenty of points to go around in this one.
7:10 pm ET, TBS, No. 12 South Florida vs. No. 13 Ohio, Nashville: South Florida is playing for the right to make it to the Sweet 16. Seriously. South Florida. I’m as surprised as you are, but Stan Heath has built himself a nice little team. The star is Anthony Collins, their point guard that is to South Florida what Jordan Taylor is to Wisconsin. It is interesting to note that Ohio, who upset Georgetown in the 2010 NCAA tournament, has far more postseason experience that the Bulls.
7:45 pm ET, No. 10 Xavier vs. No. 15 Lehigh, Greensboro: Tu Holloway vs. CJ McCollum. I don’t want to hear about Xavier’s resurgence from the brawl or the upset of Duke or any of that. Tu Holloway vs. CJ McCollum. If that can’t get you to tune into a basketball game, than I don’t think I want to be friends with you.
8:40 pm ET, TNT, No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 10 Purdue, Omaha: Regardless of the result in this game, it is likely going to be the end of a star’s collegiate career. Robbie Hummel is a senior. He’s playing to keep his career intact, a career that included back-to-back ACL tears. On the other side of the floor is Thomas Robinson, a junior that has a young sister to care for that will, in all likelihood, make his way to the NBA after this season. Two terrific young men that are more than worthy of the love they get.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.