On Thursday, two number 14 seeds pulled upsets (Georgia State over Baylor and UAB over Iowa State) for the first time in a single NCAA Tournament since 1995 and there were five games decided by one point, which is the most ever for a single day in tournament history. The Big East was 4-0, the Big 12 was 0-3 and SMU lost on a controversial goaltending call against UCLA.
Are we in for another highly entertaining day of basketball on Friday? Yes, please.
16 more games are in action on Friday and with two more wins (by St. John's and Providence) the Big East would be a perfect 6-0 in the opening round, something that they failed achieve last season.
How/Where to watch:
12:15 pm ET CBS #2 Kansas vs. #15 New Mexico State (Marv Albert, Chris Webber, Len Elmore)
12:40 pm ET TruTV #7 Michigan State vs. #7 Georgia (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, Tracy Wolfson)
1:40 pm ET TBS #5 Northern Iowa vs. #12 Wyoming (Spero Dedes, Mike Gminski, Jaime Maggio)
2:10 pm ET TNT #5 West Virginia vs. #12 Buffalo (Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb, Evan Washburn)
Approx. 2:45 pm ET CBS #7 Wichita State vs. #10 Indiana (Albert, Webber, Elmore)
Approx. 3:10 pm ET TruTV #2 Virginia vs. #15 Belmont (Nantz, Raftery, Hill, Wolfson)
Approx. 4:10 pm ET TBS #4 Louisville vs. #14 UC Irvine (Dedes, Gminski, Maggio)
Approx. 4:40 pm ET TNT #4 Maryland vs. #13 Valparaiso (Eagle, Gottlieb, Washburn)
6:50 pm ET TBS #8 Oregon vs. #9 Oklahoma State (Albert, Webber, Elmore)
7:10 pm ET CBS #1 Duke vs. #16 Robert Morris (Nantz, Raftery, Hill, Wolfson)
7:20 pm ET TNT #7 Iowa vs. #10 Davidson (Dedes, Gminski, Maggio)
7:27 pm ET TruTV #3 Oklahoma vs. #14 Albany (Eagle, Gottlieb, Washburn)
Approx. 9:20 pm ET TBS #1 Wisconsin vs. #16 Coastal Carolina (Albert, Webber, Elmore)
Approx. 9:40 pm ET CBS #8 St. John's vs. #9 San Diego State (Nantz, Raftery, Hill, Wolfson)
Approx. 9:50 pm ET TNT #2 Gonzaga vs. #15 North Dakota State (Dedes, Gminski, Maggio)
Approx. 9:57 pm ET TruTV #6 Providence vs. #11 Dayton (Eagle, Gottlieb, Washburn)
Top Game Previews:
#5 West Virginia (Big-12 At-Large) vs. #12 Buffalo (MAC Automatic bid) Midwest Region
The banged up Mountaineers have struggled down the stretch (losing three out of four) but Juwun Staten (knee) and Gary Browne (ankle) are both expected to play and be fully healthy on Friday. This is a huge factor because Staten is the heart and soul of West Virginia's defense and if they are going to avoid the haunted 5-12 upset they must force turnovers.
Bobby Hurley's Bulls are no slouch though as they have battled with Kentucky and Wisconsin during the non-conference portion of their schedule. Shannon Evans will be fearless when dealing with the Mountaineers pressure defense and Justin Moss is the best player no one knows about. Moss has 15 double-doubles this year while averaging 17.7 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game.
#8 Oregon (Pac-12 At-Large) vs. #9 Oklahoma State (Big-12 At-Large) West Region
The Ducks are not necessarily deep or strong in the paint but they have senior guard Joseph Young, who averages 20.2 points per game. They have beaten Utah twice this season and even though they were blown out by Arizona three times, Dana Altman is a terrific coach. Altman has brought this squad from doom in the offseason (three players dismissed) to one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and a feared team in the NCAA Tournament.
The Cowboys finished seventh in the Big-12 standings (8-10 in the conference) with five ranked teams ahead of them. Senior Le'Bryan Nash, 17.1 points per game, has underachieved in his college career and a victory in the Big Dance will go a long way for his legacy. He also has a solid supporting cast in Phil Forte, Michael Cobbins, Anthony Hickey Jr. and Jeff Newberry.
Expect a wire to wire energized game as Oklahoma State is ranked in the top 26 nationally in both blocks and steals per game.
#6 Providence (Big East At-Large) vs. #11 Dayton (A-10 At-Large) East Region
The Friars are a tough defensive team that supports a dynamic duo in LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn. In order for the Friars to defeat Dayton in what should be a practical road game, Ben Bentil (three double-doubles in four games) and Tyler Harris must continue to play strong complementary basketball. The Big East is 4-0 so far in the Big Dance with two teams yet to play in the Round of 64, St. John's and these Friars.
The Flyers played a home game in Dayton in the First Four against Boise State, storming to make a comeback in the second half thanks to Jordan Sibert and solid defense on a final shot by Derrick Marks. Archie Miller's team should have another strong crowd in Columbus but Providence's size could be a problem. With two seven footers on the opposing team, the Flyers are going to have a difficult time rebounding without a player in their rotation over 6'6".