NCAA Tournament 2017: Ranking all the second-round games on Sunday
Saturday was fun and brought upsets; Sunday could be even better
Saturday was good tournament fun. We had thego down with Wisconsin’s win over Villanova; Northwestern on a play that could’ve spoiled its upset bid against Gonzaga; Xavier provided a shocking smack-down on Florida State; and that Arizona-Saint Mary’s game matched the hype.
Now let’s look at what we’ve got coming on Sunday. PLENTY of great ones on tap. Here’s, all of it.
And yes, I assure you, more upsets are coming. We’re going to finish this weekend out strong.
8. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks (South). Just don’t think Arkansas is going to be able to keep pace with UNC. The Tar Heels blitzed Texas Southern Tigers when no one was looking, while the Hogs got by in part because of a controversial flagrant 1 call that sealed the game for them against Seton Hall Pirates . I like UNC big in this spot, with a heavy Tar Heel-blue contingent down in Greenville. For Arkansas, winning a tourney game after landing an 8-seed is a successful season. Expectations hit for the Hogs. 6:10 p.m., TNT
7. No. 3 Baylor Bears vs. No. 11 Southern California Trojans (East). USC beat Providence Friars in the First Four, then won it late vs. SMU. Now the Trojans and their talent go up against a Baylor squad that is led by Johnathan Motley , a potential first-round pick in 2017. While I liked SMU Mustangs to beat Baylor, I can’t say the same for the Trojans here. I think Baylor’s defense is going to give USC too many issues. This game has some appeal to it because people like to watch Baylor to see if it loses close gams late, but the truth is Baylor has been one of the best teams against good competition this season. 7:45 p.m., truTV
6. No. 2 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (East). A Duke game rated this low speaks to the opponent and just how good the games/matchups listed ahead of it are. Duke will probably be outflanked by the fan base in the gym, as the 7 seed gets to play this game all of 100 miles from its campus. Few will shed tears for Duke over that, though. Still, Duke is so much more talented than South Carolina. I have a hard time seeing this game being close in the closing minutes. That said, if USC can repeat what it did against Marquette Golden Eagles , then that changes everything. Also, people will be tuning in to hate-watch Grayson Allen , among other things, but that’s not reason to put this game higher on the list. 8:40 p.m., TNT
5. No. 3 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats (South). We have a few contrast-in-style games going down this weekend, and this is one of them. I was talking with a Cincinnati assistant on Friday night who got to see UCLA’s speed and style up close. Here’s why this game should be interesting. 1) UCLA did not impress in its win over Kent State Golden Flashes . 2) Cincinnati isn’t just all defense. While the Bearcats are still defense-first, this group can actually score. So with UCLA’s issues without the ball, it’s conceivable that the anonymous Bearcats could pull off the upset. Troy Caupain MUST play well to give UC a shot. Plus, this is a great uniform game. Both teams’ threads are awesome. 9:40 p.m., TBS
4. No 3 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 11 Rhode Island Rams (Midwest). I’ve got Rhode Island winning this game. Oregon had no issues with Iona Gaels , but Rhode Island is much more talented. The Rams looked like a top-20 team, the team that was ranked in preseason polls, in their win over Creighton Bluejays . EC Matthews vs. Dillon Brooks : Heck yeah. Hassan Martin vs. Jordan Bell : thank you, bracket lords. Kuran Iverson will probably need to have another big game. Lamar Odom will be on hand, as the Rams’ win on Friday was the first time URI got a win in the NCAAs since 1998, when Odom was on the team. Remember, the Ducks don’t have Chris Boucher . This is a meeting between the two best shot-blocking teams in college basketball, but Oregon is down their best swatter. 7:10 p.m., TBS
3. No. 2 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (Midwest). Incredible Michigan story, but more to the point, that offense going against Louisville’s defense. What a tremendous way to start off Sunday. The Wolverines’ amazing offense scored 1.58 points per possession in the second half of their win over Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday. An incredible game. UM had 16 3-pointers and got by against a like-minded team. Now, the opposite. Louisville is among the best in defense in college basketball. This game is a rematch of the 2013 national championship; Louisville won that game. Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. is going to have another tough test, but he fared well against OSU’s Jawun Evans . It’s sort of feeling like this UM team is destined for the Sweet 16, right? 12:10 p.m., CBS
2. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 9 Michigan State (Midwest). Well, this is going to be awesome. You could make the argument that no team looked better in its first-round game than KU, but of course the opponent factors into that. Now Bill Self has to deal with a Tom Izzo team that turned Miami into putty. Josh Jackson vs. Miles Bridges is a lottery pick face-off that could be one highlight after another. Tom Izzo is 21-4 in second round and/or elite Eight gams, meaning he’s terrific on two-day turnarounds. Bill Self is merely OK, going 19-17. Izzo has more wins as a lower seed than any coach in history. Self is up for the Hall of Fame, while Izzo just got in last year. Two top-10 programs. I know you’ll find the time to watch. 5:15 p.m., CBS
1. No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 10 Wichita State Shockers (South). The most anticipated game of any between Saturday and Sunday, without question. The under-seeded Shockers won ugly over Dayton Flyers -- and it was impressive. Few teams look like they play harder than this one. Gregg Marshall’s guys rank as the No. 5 team in all of college basketball at KenPom.com. Who’s No. 4? Kentucky. This is the rematch of the 2014 second-round game, only the roles are reversed. UK is the higher seed, while Wichita State can play spoiler. And UK can’t be happy it was placed in this quadrant with such a good team so early. The Wildcats weren’t overly impressive against Northern Kentucky, either. A lot of people will jump on the Wichita State number, I believe. The key for the Shockers will be keeping Landry Shamet out of foul trouble and having Shaq Morris body up on Bam Adebayo. Should be a great game. Should be a great weekend. 2:40 p.m., CBS
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