SportsPulse: Saturday was all chalk for the most part with Ja Morant and Murray State bowing out of the tournament. Trysta Krick recaps the action and looks ahead to Sunday’s slate.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament tips off the remaining eight second-round games across the four regions, beginning Sunday just after noon ET. By the end of the day, the Sweet 16 will be set.
Here is everything you need to know regarding coverage, along with must-watch storylines as we close out the opening weekend of March Madness.
— Takeaways from Saturday’s NCAA tournament games.
— Brandon Clarke, who not too long ago was a little-known San Jose State player, broke a Gonzaga record held by Adam Morrison in the Bulldogs’ second round win.
—How Kansas went from preseason No. 1 to out of the NCAA tournament before the second weekend.
— Murray State’s NCAA tournament run came to an end against Florida State. So, what’s next for star Ja Morant?
— Speaking of Florida State, Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton continues to rack up bonus money.
— Wofford Fletcher Magee, the Division I all-time leader in made threes, went cold (0-for-12 from deep) at the absolute worst time.
— LSU beat Maryland in the most exciting finish of the tournament so far. But it was a win also filled with meaning for the Tigers.
No. 2 Tennessee (30-5) vs. No. 10 Iowa (23-11)
South Regional, Columbus
Time, TV: 12:10 p.m., CBS
Why Tennessee will win: Admiral Schofield hadn’t quite been himself the last few games, taking some questionable shots and not playing the kind of lock-down defense for which he’s known. But if his performance over the last four minutes against Colgate is any indication, the all-SEC player has found his groove again. Schofield made three 3-pointers in the last 4:01 of the game, and his back-to-back treys in the last 90 seconds ended any hopes Colgate had of pulling off an upset.
Why Iowa will win: Some freshman can be overwhelmed by the big stage of the NCAA tournament. Joe Wieskamp most definitely is not. Wieskamp scored 19 for the Hawkeyes against Cincinnati, and he repeatedly came up with big shots that kept the Bearcats from running away with the game. With the Hawkeyes trailing by 10 at the end of the first half, Wieskamp snagged a rebound and scored on a layup, then followed with a 3. In the second half, Cincinnati had a four-point lead when Wieskamp made a free throw and another 3. Nicholas Baer added another 3, and Iowa never trailed again.
No. 1 North Carolina (28-6) vs. No. 9 Washington (27-8)
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Midwest Regional, Columbus
Time, TV: approx. 2:40 p.m., CBS
Why Washington will win: Washington’s zone. The Huskies pride themselves on their defense, and you could see why against Utah State, when they shut down Sam Merrill and made life miserable in general for all the Aggies. North Carolina is, of course, deeper and more versatile than Utah State, but Washington’s zone will make it seem as if the Tar Heels are playing a man down.
Why North Carolina will win: Not that anyone needs a reminder of the importance of every game in the NCAA tournament, but North Carolina got one in the form of 16th-seeded Iona, which outplayed the Tar Heels for the first 20 minutes and took a five-point lead into halftime. Roy Williams told his team that it wasn’t playing with enough energy, and the Tar Heels responded in the second half, shooting a blistering 63 percent. Now that Carolina is fully engaged, don’t expect them to lose focus again.
No. 1 Duke (30-5) vs. No. 9 UCF (24-8)
East Regional, Columbia
Time, TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Why Duke will win: When healthy, the Blue Devils have handled teams like UCF all season long. And up to this point, nobody has really found a good answer for freshman Zion Williamson, who is averaging 26.5 points and shooting 76% from the field since returning from a knee injury. UCF typically likes to attack the rim — the Knights rank 314th nationally in 3-point attempts — not a good plan against a Duke team that leads the nation with 6.8 blocks a game.
Why UCF will win: This is still a Duke team largely composed of freshmen, so there’s always a possible freak-out factor if the game is close late. UCF does a good job defending the 3-point line (opponents shoot 31.3%), and Duke too often settles for outside shots even though it makes just 30.5% as a team. If Duke tries to avoid going at 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall and turns it into a 3-point contest, it is susceptible to long offensive droughts against a Knights team that has a top-35 defense.
No. 3 Texas Tech (27-6) vs. No. 6 Buffalo (32-3)
Midwest Regional, Tulsa
Time, TV: 6:10 p.m., ET, TNT
Why Texas Tech will win: The Red Raiders contest every shot, every pass, every move with a passion most teams only dream of: opponents shoot just 36.8 percent, which ranks No. 2 nationally. Sophomore guard Jarrett Culver is an emerging star whose presence impacts the game on both ends of the floor.
Why Buffalo will win: The Bulls play defense, too. But they have the balanced offensive capability – especially from the perimeter – to go on devastating runs. Nick Perkins’ play inside complements the perimeter games of CJ Massinburg and Jeremy Harris.
No. 12 Oregon (24-12) vs. No. 13 UC Irvine (31-5)
South Regional, San Jose
Time, TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS
Why Oregon will win: Riding a nine-game winning streak, Oregon is playing its best basketball of the season. Its overall athleticism and Payton Pritchard’s sterling play at point guard — a combination that proved lethal in Oregon’s 72-54 first-round victory over Wisconsin — will propel the Ducks into the Sweet 16.
Why UC Irvine will win: The Anteaters have won 17 games in a row and the Big West conference champs proved the winning streak is legit with a 70-64 victory over fourth-seeded Kansas in the first round. And in UC Irvine’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory, guard Max Hazzard & Co. showed UC Irvine has the swagger, poise and talent to advance.
No. 1 Virginia (30-3) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (20-13)
South Regional, Columbia
Time, TV: approx. 7:35 p.m. ET, TruTV
Why Virginia will win: The Cavaliers should be in a better place mentally with the first-round jitters behind them. And when their defense is firing on all cylinders, as it was in the second half against Gardner-Webb, there just aren’t many comfortable shots available. The Sooners were a middling offensive team most of the season (58th nationally in Ken Pomeroy efficiency), and it’s hard to imagine a freshman point guard in Jamal Bienemy being able to solve Virginia’s pack-line.
Why Oklahoma will win: It’s going to take an otherworldly shooting performance for the Sooners to have a chance, but that’s kind of what they did in the first round against Ole Miss by making 58% of their field goals and 6-of-13 from the 3-point line. Of course, Virginia is a different challenge, but the Sooners have high-volume 3-point gunners in Christian James (33.7%) and Brady Manek (35.4%). If they’re hitting, maybe the tournament pressure creeps in again for Virginia.
No. 3 Houston (32-3) vs. No. 11 Ohio State (20-14)
West Regional, Tulsa
Time, TV: 8:40 p.m., TNT
Why Houston will win: It’s a typical Kelvin Sampson team, committed to defense (the Cougars allow opponents a 36.7 percent field-goal average, best in the country). And it’s an atypical Sampson team, able to score in bunches. The combination can be devastating.
Why Ohio State will win: The Buckeyes aren’t great offensively, but when they work to feed 6-9, 270-pound sophomore Kaleb Wesson on the interior, he gets results. They rebound well and prefer a controlled pace which can frustrate opponents.
No. 4 Virginia Tech (25-8) vs. No. 12 Liberty (29-6)
East Regional, San Jose
Time, TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS
Why Virginia Tech will win: Point guard Justin Robinson, back after missing 12 games with a foot injury, helped steady Virginia Tech in its convincing, 66-52 victory over Saint Louis in the first round. And coach Buzz Williams has his team’s defense in top form, with Virginia Tech having held Saint Louis to 36.5 percent shooting.
Why Liberty will win: The NCAA tournament needs a Cinderella for the Sweet 16 and the sneaker looks like it fits Liberty. From baby-faced freshman guard Darius McGhee to the chunky forward Myo Baxter-Bell, it’s a whimsical looking roster with Sweet 16-caliber talent.
Contributing: Dan Wolken, Nancy Armour, George Schroeder, Josh Peter