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The round of 64 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament rolls on with another full slate of 16 games on Friday.
Curiously, the second day of March Madness features all four of the No. 3 seeds in action, and by extension all of the often compelling No. 6 vs. No. 11 matchups. That’s the area of the bracket where first- and second-round chaos often occurs.
In short, day two figures to be another wild ride. Once again, we’re here to help you plan your viewing for the day.
Here’s the list of all 16 of Friday’s games ranked by how watchable we think they’ll be. But again, keep that remote handy in case unexpected situations develop.
No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Providence
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Time/TV: 7:10 p.m., CBS
We’ll once again put the prime-time offering at the top of the list, and no, not just because there’s a name-brand program involved. There are myriad subplots surrounding Kentucky this year, not the least of which is whether the Wildcats can overcome their recent history of poor postseason performances. You’ll also probably hear a time or two that Bryce Hopkins, the leading scorer for the Friars, was a little-utilized Wildcat at this time last year. But the game itself will hinge on how well Hopkins and frontcourt mate Ed Croswell handle Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe in the paint, and whether the Wildcats’ occasionally shaky guards can deal with the Friars’ constant ball pressure.
No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic
Time/TV: 9:20 p.m., TNT
This is the last of the 8-9 pairings, and we think it’s the best of the bunch. For one thing, both conference tournament champions had strong arguments to be seeded higher. We would also give the winner of this game the best odds of doing damage in the next round. The Owls, already enjoying a record-setting campaign, would love to add a first March Madness win to their season of firsts. And oh yeah, these two will be future conference opponents when Florida Atlantic joins the American Athletic. But the present concern for the Owls is the Tigers’ dynamic duo of Kendric Davis (22.1 ppg) and DeAndre Williams (17.8 ppg).
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No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 Virginia Commonwealth
Time/TV: 2 p.m., TBS
Arguably the most intriguing of the 5-12 contests pits the Gaels, now tournament regulars from the West Coast Conference, against the Rams, the Atlantic 10 regular-season and tournament champions with a history of busting brackets. Topping the marquee is the back-court duel between VCU’s Adrian “Ace” Baldwin and Saint Mary’s freshman sensation Aidan Mahaney. But the game could turn on whether the Gaels can find points from other sources like Logan Johnson, or if Jalen DeLoach and Jamir Watkins can impose their will on the glass for the Rams.
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Arizona State
Time/TV: 10:05 p.m., truTV
ASU’s impressive romp past Nevada Wednesday night made this game a lot more interesting. Pac-12 teams emerging from the First Four, after all, have been known to advance even further of late. The Sun Devils, however, remain somewhat puzzling as the precision and smart decisions they displayed in Dayton have been absent at times this season, a big reason they were on the bubble in the first place. The Horned Frogs, meanwhile, have enjoyed a few extra days off, and Mike Miles has been getting help at the three-point arc of late from Chuck O’Bannon.
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Southern California
Time/TV: 12:15 p.m., CBS
It’s hard to know what to expect from this pairing of teams that, like many other squads around the country, were up and down all season. Spartans coach Tom Izzo, of course, is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of March, and MSU’s swarming defense will make life difficult for the Trojans. But USC’s Boogie Ellis (18.0 ppg) can take over a game if he heats up.
No. 5 Miami (Fla.) vs. No. 12 Drake
Time/TV: 7:25 p.m., TBS
Even though its membership has changed over the years, the Missouri Valley Conference is always a threat to make noise in March. The Bulldogs could be a tough draw for the Hurricanes, who aren’t as physically imposing as some power conference squads and could be even thinner up front if Norchad Omier (ankle) is limited The driving force for Drake is Tucker DeVries, son of head coach Darian DeVries, putting up 19 points a game.
No. 4 Connecticut vs. No. 13 Iona
Time/TV: 4:30 p.m., TBS
UConn will be eager to erase any memories of last year’s quick tournament exit but are once again matched with a potentially formidable mid-major opponent. Gaels coach Rick Pitino – you may have heard of him – has some familiarity with postseason environs. His backcourt tandem of Walter Clayton Jr. and Daniss Jenkins are capable of causing trouble for the Huskies, but Iona might not have an answer for UConn’s Adama Sanogo on the inside.
No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 Kent State
Time/TV: 9:55 p.m., TBS
It’s Friday night, so don’t worry about staying up late should the Golden Flashes hang with the Hoosiers into the wee hours. IU’s Trayce Jackson-Davis has been an unstoppable force at both ends of the floor all season, but the team’s overall defensive execution has been lacking at times. Kent State is capable of taking advantage if primary facilitator Sincere Carry is in top form.
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Kennesaw State
Time/TV: 12:40 p.m., truTV
This is the first taste of March Madness for the Owls of Kennesaw State, and they bring an athletic squad featuring guys like G Chris Youngblood (14.7 ppg) and F Demond Robinson (11.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) that could give the Musketeers some issues. Xavier needed to retool its frontcourt a bit since Zach Freemantle went out with a foot injury, but Jack Nunge, the hero of last year’s NIT championship team, has helped fill in the rebounding gap.
No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Pittsburgh
Time/TV: 3:10 p.m., truTV
This is another tough one to predict. The Cyclones haven’t performed well away from Ames for much of the season, but the Panthers had to survive a tight affair with Mississippi State in Dayton and might not be as fresh. ISU has a lot of fearless if streaky three-point shooters, but Pitt’s solid 75.5% free-throw shooting as a team will help with a late lead.
No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 North Carolina State
Time/TV: 4 p.m., TNT
The good news for the Wolfpack is they don’t have to play Clemson again, responsible for three of their 10 losses. Creighton poses its own challenge, however, with the combo of point guard Ryan Nembhard and big man Ryan Kalkbrenner keeping the floor well spaced for the Bluejays’ numerous shooters.
No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Vermont
Time/TV: Friday, 2:45 p.m., CBS
Tyler Kolek and the Golden Eagles, the lone 2 seeds in action on Friday, would like to make short work of the Catamounts. It might not be easy, however, as Vermont shoots 47.5% from the field as a team and spreads the wealth among six players who all average over seven points a game.
No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 14 Montana State
Time/TV: Friday, 9:40 p.m., CBS
For the second consecutive year, the Bobcats find themselves pitted against a Big 12 squad as a No. 14 seed. They’re hoping for a better showing than they managed in a 35-point loss to Texas Tech, but the Wildcats, though less tournament tested in recent years, will also be a physical mismatch for them.
No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 UC Santa Barbara
Time/TV: Friday, 1:30 p.m., TNT
The Bears’ vast array of dynamic guards should take charge of this one. But keep an eye on the Gauchos’ ultra-efficient floor general Ajay Mitchell, who hits over 50% of his field goals and 81.5% of his free throws, all while dishing out 5.2 assists a game.
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 14 Grand Canyon
Time/TV: Friday, 7:35 p.m., truTV
Gonzaga enters this tournament without the largely external pressure of living up to a No. 1 seed, but in theory could face a tougher first-round matchup seeded lower. The Antelopes – or ‘Lopes if you like – face no pressure whatsoever, and WAC tourney MVP Ray Harrison (17.7 ppg) won’t be afraid to let it fly.
No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson
Time/TV: Friday, 6:50 p.m., TNT
Generally speaking, heavy underdogs need to make a lot of 3-pointers to pull off, say, Maryland-Baltimore County-type upsets in this tournament. The Knights certainly showed they could do that Wednesday, knocking down 11 triples against Texas Southern, but they’ll probably need even more than that to hang with the Boilermakers. Purdue for its part figures to face a challenging second-round contest and would like to put this one away as efficiently as possible.