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2015 NCAA Tournament: Saturday Round of 32 Preview and Predictions

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The field has been whittled by half. And thanks to the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament, the round of 32 on Saturday is full of some of the most unlikely teams.

The day that probably killed your bracket gives us four double-digit seeds among the 16 teams in action Saturday.

Will the upset trend continue into the Sweet 16?

NCAA Tournament Round of 32 Preview and Predictions

All times Eastern

No. 14 UAB vs. No. 11 UCLA

TV: 12:10 p.m., CBS

Site: Louisville, Ky. (South Region)

Preview: One way or another, the Sweet 16 is going to have one of the surprise teams of the Tournament — either a team that was 16-15 entering the conference tournaments or the most-derided at-large team in the field. Both teams had an other-worldly effort in the round of 64. UAB held Iowa State’s prolific offense to 0.86 points per possession, the Cyclones’ lowest average since Jan. 4. For UCLA, coach’s son Bryce Alford hit nine 3-pointers, more than one-tenth of his season-long total.

Prediction: UCLA 76-69

No. 8 Cincinnati vs. No. 1 Kentucky

TV: 2:40 p.m., CBS

Site: Louisville, Ky. (South Region)

Preview: If it wasn’t tough enough already for Cincinnati to attempt the upset of upsets against Kentucky, the Bearcats aren’t in ideal shape to take on the 35-0 Wildcats. Cincinnati expended plenty of energy to overcome a Purdue lead — by as much as 7 in the final minute — to beat the Boilermakers in overtime. 

Prediction: Kentucky 77-50

No. 10 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Arizona

TV: CBS

Site: Portland, Ore. (West Region)

Preview: The storylines are many. Arizona coach Sean Miller will face his old boss from Xavier in Thad Matta, who preceded Miller as the coach of the Musketeers. The game also will feature the best freshmen in the country who don’t play for Duke and Kentucky in Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Arizona’s Stanley Johnson. Russell and the Buckeyes’ other two freshmen, Jae'Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop, came up with big shots against VCU, but going from VCU’s havoc to Arizona’s defense is quite the challenging turnaround.

Prediction: Arizona 66-60

No. 14 Georgia State vs. No. 6 Xavier

TV: 6:10 p.m., TNT

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Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (West Region)

Preview: Georgia State is embracing its time as the country’s favorite mid-major of the moment. What would really help Georgia State keep this run going is a full-game performance from star R.J. Hunter. Hunter scored 12 points in the final three minutes against Baylor, but only four before then. Xavier had one of the most complete games of the round of 64 with center Matt Stainbrook and guard Dee Davis combining for 37 points on 13-of-20 shooting. Xavier also held Ole Miss’ top two guards to 14 points and 5-of-26 shooting.

Prediction: Xavier 71-61

No. 8 NC State vs. No. 1 Villanova

TV: 7:10 p.m., TBS

Site: Pittsburgh (East Region)

Preview: NC State moved to Saturday thanks to an 0-of-12 shooting drought from LSU in a 66-65. The Wolfpack can’t count on that from Villanova, one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country. NC State ranks 343rd in the country in forcing turnovers, so the Wolfpack will need to defend Villanova in the halfcourt, a risky proposition. If NC State is going to be the giant-killer it was during the regular season with wins over Duke, Louisville and North Carolina, it will take a major effort.

Prediction: Villanova 79-70

No. 5 Utah vs. No. 4 Georgetown

TV: 7:45 p.m., CBS

Site: Portland, Ore. (South Region)

Preview: Both teams conquered the upset bug in their round of 64 games against Stephen F. Austin and Eastern Washington. Look for Utah’s Delon Wright against Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Hoyas big man Josh Smith against the Utes’ frontcourt to be two of the most interesting matchups of the round of 32.

Prediction: Utah 65-60

No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 4 North Carolina

TV: 8:40 p.m., TNT

Site: Jacksonville, Fla. (West Region)

Preview: This is the odds-on favorite for the most entertaining game of the day with the way North Carolina and Arkansas like to run the floor. The individual matchups also bring promise. The Tar Heels’ Marcus Paige and Razorbacks’ Michael Qualls will look to go shot for shot, and the Hogs’ Bobby Portis will face an offensive rebounding machine that dominates the paint.

Prediction: North Carolina 78-72

No. 6 Butler vs. No. 3 Notre Dame

TV: 9:40 p.m., TBS

Site: Pittsburgh (Midwest Region)

Preview: The all-Indiana round of 32 game will match up one of the nation’s elite all-around offensive teams with a top-10 defensive team. Notre Dame is the nation’s No. 1 team from 2-point range, No. 17 from 3-point range and No. 33 from the free throw line. It all starts with Jerian Grant, who will be a tough matchup for Roosevelt Jones and Alex Barlow. The latter has averaged more than two steals per game the last two years.

Prediction: Notre Dame 76-68