Half of the Sweet 16 field is already set in the NCAA tournament, with the other half to be set at the conclusion of today's games. As on Saturday, the schedule once again sets up for a slow morning but a furious finish.
While I'm going to do my best to watch all of these games today, here are two games that I think command special interest:
No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Wichita State: The narrative is going to be that it's the blue-blood NBAers vs. the midmajor upstarts.
Back on Selection Sunday, you might remember that observers were astonished by the Shockers' difficult draw. This is the sort of thing they were talking about -- Kentucky was determined to be the 29th-best team in the field by the NCAA, yet is rated 14th by kenpom.com and 15th by both Sagarin and LMRC. In other words, there's lots of agreement that Kentucky isn't your typical No. 8 seed. (And, as a reward, whoever wins will face a Louisville team that isn't your typical No. 4 seed.) The sad thing about this game is that it will be seen as a referendum on Wichita State's season if the Shockers lose, somehow invalidating the amazingness of 35-0. For that reason alone, it sure would be great if the Shockers could win.
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 UCLA: This game is intriguing because it is a wonderful contrast in styles. The Lumberjacks live off turnovers on defense, but the Bruins are one of the very best teams in the country at taking care of the basketball -- remarkable for a team that plays at such a fast pace. The Bruins generally are able to survive the games where they turn it over a bit, but the SFA defense takes a definite hit when it can't generate turnovers. On the other end of the floor, SFA relies heavily on offensive rebounding to spark its offense, and that was key against VCU. UCLA, though, is a superb defensive rebounding club. Neither a close game nor a game where UCLA rolls fairly handily would surprise me.
As usual, you can stream the action here.
|South||Stanford Cardinal (10) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (2)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||915a||CBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|Midwest||Kentucky Wildcats (8) vs. Wichita State Shockers (1)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||1145a||CBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|East||North Carolina Tar Heels (6) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (3)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||215p||CBS||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|Midwest||Mercer Bears (14) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (11)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||310p||TNT||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|South||Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (12) vs. UCLA Bruins (4)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||410p||TBS||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|West||Baylor Bears (6) vs. Creighton Bluejays (3)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||445p||truTV||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|East||Memphis Tigers (8) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (1)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||540p||TNT||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|West||Gonzaga Bulldogs (8) vs. Arizona Wildcats (1)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||640p||TBS||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|