USA Today Sports’ Dan Wolken looks at which teams are heading to the Sweet 16 after winning their second-round matchups Saturday.
USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports ranks Sunday’s round of 32 matchups in order of watchability.
The NCAA tournament continues rolling along on Sunday with eight games at four different sites across the country.
Get ready for all the action with thorough previews for every game on the schedule as the schools look to punch their tickets to the Sweet 16 on the road to Glendale, Ariz., for the Final Four.
All times Eastern
1.) No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 10 Wichita State
- Time, TV: 2:40 p.m., CBS. Site: Indianapolis.
? Why Kentucky (30-5) win: The Wildcats average 86 points per game and will be hungry to put on a show after a lackluster win over Northern Kentucky in the first round. The Shockers feature the nation’s 14th-best defense, but they haven’t faced a team with this much offense since Oklahoma State in December – and they lost that game 93-76. Now they face the potent guard combo of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
? Why Wichita State (31-4) will win: While the Shockers are known for their defense, the offense has plenty of power too. They average 81.5 points per game and feature three players who averaged double-figures. If Kentucky commits turnovers and struggles from behind the arc — both of which were issues against Northern Kentucky — Wichita State could get revenge for the memorable Round of 64 matchup between the schools in 2014.
REMATCH: Kentucky, Wichita State remember classic 2014 battle
BRACKET: Follow the field to Glendale
2.) No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 9 Michigan State
- Time, TV: 5:15 p.m., CBS. Site: Tulsa, Okla.
? Why Kansas (29-4) will win: The Jayhawks have made a habit of playing (and winning) close games this season, but they cruised past No. 16 seed UC Davis 100-62 in the first round, firing on all cylinders. It gets tougher from here, but they have Frank Mason III for leadership, and in Josh Jackson they’ll have the most talented player on the floor.
? Why Michigan State (20-14) will win: When Michigan State played a bunch of heavyweights in November — Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor, Wichita State, Duke, winning only against the Shockers — it seemed like overscheduling for a young bunch, and it probably was. But it’s March, and in demolishing Miami (Fla.) 78-58, Tom Izzo’s team looked, like, well, a Tom Izzo team looks in March. It’s built around freshman forward Miles Bridges, but he’s not the only one. Freshmen scored 57 points against the Hurricanes.
PEAKING: Michigan State finding groove in March
3.) No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 7 Michigan
- Time, TV: 12:10 p.m., CBS. Site: Indianapolis.
? Why Louisville (25-8) will win: The Cardinals have held opponents to 31.5 percent shooting from behind this arc this season. Michigan won its game against Oklahoma State in the first round thanks in large part to connecting on 16-of-22 three-point attempts. That level of success will likely be hard to come by against Louisville, and Michigan will have to come up with other ways to score — against the sixth-best defense in the country.
? Why Michigan (25-11) will win: Simply put, the Wolverines are one of the hottest teams in the country right now. They are averaging 79 points per game since the start of the Big Ten tournament. In four of the team’s five wins during that span, four Michigan players have scored in double figures. Louisville’s defense could have its hands full trying to defend the Wolverines’ multiple threats from both inside and outside the arc.
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4.) No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 6 Cincinnati
- Time, TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS. Site: Sacramento, Calif.
? Why UCLA (30-4) will win: The Bruins will play a lick of defense — just a lick — and that’s about all it will take. The nation’s top scoring offense was up to its high-flying ways in a 97-80 victory over Kent State and now it’s time to maybe guard someone. For a minute or two. Oh, and did we mention Lonzo Ball? UCLA wins because of Lonzo Ball, too. The freshman does a little bit of everything for Steve Alford’s team.
? Cincinnati (30-5) will win: Bearcats coach Mick Cronin is the kind of guy whose chances you’d like in a bar fight. Cincinnati has its best shot if it turns this game into a bar fight and feeds off Cronin’s energy. The Bearcats looked scrappy enough in a first-round victory over Kansas State. They’ll like the look of UCLA’s almost nonexistent defense, and their physical style will be something the Bruins are accustomed to facing.
5.) No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 South Carolina
- Time, TV: Approx. 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT. Site: Greenville, S.C.
? Why Duke (28-8) will win: The Blue Devils are the more talented team; it’s as simple as that sometimes. Both teams are playing better than they have all season, but one team’s ceiling is a great deal higher than the other. And if Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen play the way they are capable, Duke should have no problem moving through to the Sweet 16.
? Why South Carolina (23-10) will win: The Gamecocks are playing, essentially, a home game — just as they did Friday night against Marquette. And it’s clear that they feed quite well off that crowd energy. It’s an odd scenario, with a No. 2 seed playing in such a hostile environment (especially when you throw in the UNC fans in attendance), but you can’t blame the NCAA for this. Blame North Carolina’s HB2.
ROAD GAME: Duke to face unfriendly crowd in South Carolina
6.) No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 11 Rhode Island
- Time, TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS. Site: Sacramento, Calif.
? Why Oregon (30-5) will win: Turns out the Oregon Ducks are still potent despite the loss of Chris Boucher, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear last week. The Ducks will roll to the Sweet 16 if they put together another balanced attack — four players were in double figures Friday — that overwhelmed first-round opponent Iona in a 93-77 victory. Look for Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey to again lead the way.
? Why Rhode Island (25-9) will win: Fresh off their Atlantic 10 tournament title, the Rams showed confidence in a first-round upset of No. 6 seed Creighton and they’ll maintain that swagger against the Oregon Ducks. And get the necessary mojo from Lamar Odom, the former Rhode Island star here for the tourney. Five players scored in double figures in the first round and that could propel Rhode Island again.
7.) No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 11 Southern California
- Time, TV: 7:45 p.m., truTV. Site: Tulsa, Okla.
? Why Baylor (26-7) will win: After suffering first-round upsets the last two years, the Bears got past New Mexico State. Along with the usual producers, they got scoring from reserves Al Freeman (21 points) and Terry Maston (19) — highlighting a potential strength of a deep, talented team.
? Why USC (26-9) will win: The Trojans rallied from 12 down to beat No. 6 seed Southern Methodist, which probably shouldn’t have surprised anyone. They’d beaten SMU during the regular season — and it was their 13th win after trailing by double digits. Elijah Stewart’s outside shooting opens things up on the inside.
8.) No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 8 Arkansas
- Time, TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT. Site: Greenville, S.C.
? Why North Carolina (28-7) will win: This simply Step 2 of the Tar Heels’ redemption tour. They’re so focused on returning to the national championship game — for a chance to finish what they failed to do a year ago — that they’re laser-focused and even more businesslike than they were this time last season. With Justin Jackson and Co. firing on all cylinders, they won’t be stopped anytime soon.
? Why Arkansas (26-9) will win: Moses Kingsley showed a side of himself he hadn’t shown lately in the Razorbacks’ win against Seton Hall in the first round, finishing the game with 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting. If he continues to play this way, complementing an already-balanced attack, Arkansas can keep pace with — and perhaps edge — a very potent North Carolina offense.
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