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2017 NCAA Tournament: Friday First Round Preview and Predictions


Chaos reigned on the second day of the Round of 64 in last season's NCAA Tournament. Six double-digit seeds pulled off upsets and a couple of others took it down to the final possession before falling short. Can we expect a repeat in 2017?

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Friday's slate of 16 games features several compelling matchups and offers a first look at a number of potential Final Four and national title contenders. Top seeds Kansas and North Carolina, second seeds Duke and Kentucky, and No. 3 seeds Oregon, UCLA and Baylor all take the court on Friday. Dangerous double- digit seeds Wichita State, Marquette and Rhode Island also are in action – ready to make some noise and bust some brackets.

Here's a full look at the games on day two of the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament:

NCAA Tournament Friday First Round Games

Note: All times Eastern, some start times approximate

No. 10 Michigan vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State

TV: 12:15 p.m., CBS

Site: Indianapolis (Midwest Region)

Preview: The offensive fireworks should be fun in this one. Oklahoma State overcame a 0-6 start in Big 12 play behind the nation's no. 1 offense in adjusted efficiency. Jawun Evans, Jeffery Carroll and Phil Forte III are an electric backcourt trio, combining for 49.7 points per game. Michigan rolled to a Big Ten Tournament title and has won nine of its last 11 games. Derrick Walton Jr. leads a balanced Wolverines offense with 15.2 points and 4.7 assists per game. Both teams can light up the scoreboard in a hurry, but Michigan has looked like the stronger team down the stretch.

Prediction: Michigan 89, Oklahoma State 85

No. 14 New Mexico State vs. No. 3 Baylor

TV: 12:40 p.m., TruTV

Site: Tulsa (East Region)

Preview: Can Baylor avoid making another first round exit? The Bears lost to No. 12 Yale last season and fell to No. 14 Georgia State two years ago. Baylor opened the season with 15 straight wins but lost steam since that time. If the Bears can get a big game from Johnathan Motley, it might snap their first round hex. Motley nearly averages a double-double, scoring 17.3 points and pulling down 9.9 rebounds per game. New Mexico State can make things tough on the perimeter. The Aggies allow just 29.1 percent shooting from long distance. Ian Baker makes it count on the other end with 16.6 points and 4.1 assists per game. Still, New Mexico State has lost nine straight first round games since 1992 and isn't likely to end the drought. The Aggies won big against a weak schedule and aren't prepared to handle Baylor.

Prediction: Baylor 79, New Mexico State 67

No. 9 Seton Hall vs. No. 8 Arkansas

TV: 1:30 p.m., TNT

Site: Greenville, S.C. (South Region)

Preview: Two hot teams with contrasting styles. Arkansas prefers to run opponents to death for 40 minutes and has the depth to do it. Seton Hall prefers a more deliberate pace and exerts its will through dominating the boards. The Pirates have a definite edge inside with Angel Delgado, a junior forward who is averaging 15.3 points and 13.1 rebounds. Arkansas will need a big game from guards Daryl Macon and Dusty Hannahs. Both players are lethal outside shooters who make 38 percent of their 3-point attempts. The guess here is that Seton Hall's experience in a rugged Big East will let it win the tempo battle and the game.

Prediction: Seton Hall 73, Arkansas 70

Related: Seton Hall Pirates vs. Arkansas Razorbacks Preview and Prediction

No. 14 Iona vs. No. 3 Oregon

TV: 2 p.m., TBS

Site: Sacramento (Midwest Region)

Preview: Losing Chris Boucher is a big blow to the Ducks. Boucher was the team's top shot blocker and a valuable defender. Still, Oregon isn't as ripe for an upset as people may think. Dillon Brooks is a monster playmaker and clutch scorer in crunch time. The Ducks have a ton of offensive weapons they can unleash at any moment. Iona is good in the interior with Jordan Washington, who pours in 17.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. But the Gaels are a team that likes a lightning-fast pace and that plays right into the Ducks' wheelhouse.

Prediction: Oregon 88, Iona 75

No. 15 Jacksonville State vs. No. 2 Louisville

TV: 2:45 p.m., CBS

Site: Indianapolis (Midwest Region)

Preview: Louisville has a defense built to give opponents fits. The Cardinals know how to press and force a flurry of turnovers. Donovan Mitchell does a little bit of everything to boost Louisville on both ends. Mitchell is the team leader in scoring and steals and he's also their top 3-point shooter. Jacksonville State's strength is in the backcourt. Erik Durham, Greg Tucker and Malcolm Drumwright average a combined 35.0 points per game. The bad news for the Gamecocks? They rank last among Tournament teams in turnover margin. That doesn't bode well against the Cardinals.

Prediction: Louisville 82, Jacksonville State 63

No. 11 USC vs. No. 6 SMU

TV: 3:10 p.m., TruTV

Site: Tulsa (East Region)

Preview: SMU is a team that doesn't fit the typical profile of a No. 6 seed. The Mustangs are smart on offense and brutal on defense. They reeled off 16 straight victories entering the NCAA Tournament and held all but three opponents under 70 points in that stretch. Semi Ojeleye makes it hold up on offense. Ojeleye averages 18.9 points per game and shoots 49.1 percent from the field. SMU gets a rematch with USC, a team that beat the Mustangs 78-73 back in November. The Trojans shot 50 percent from the perimeter – led by 4-of-7 shooting from Bennie Boatwright. A First Four at-large team has advanced to the Round of 32 every season since 2011 and USC has to like its chances after rallying to beat Providence on Wednesday. SMU's defense is improved enough, though, to keep the Trojans from being the ones to extend that streak.

Prediction: SMU 73, USC 69

Related: USC Trojans vs. SMU Mustangs Preview and Prediction

No. 16 Texas Southern vs. No. 1 North Carolina

TV: 4 p.m., TNT

Site: Greenville, S.C. (South Region)

Preview: The last two times North Carolina had four players with 1,000 career points on its roster, the Tar Heels went on to win national titles. Such a scenario is in play again this season. Justin Jackson, Joel Berry, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks all have scored at least 1,000 points in their North Carolina careers. The Tar Heels also are tenacious on the boards and lead the nation in rebound margin. Texas Southern is used to playing a rugged schedule and won't be intimidated. But the Tigers shoot just 29.6 percent from the perimeter and won't be able to match North Carolina inside.

Prediction: North Carolina 85, Texas Southern 67

Related: Texas Southern Tigers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Prediction

No. 11 Rhode Island vs. No. 6 Creighton

TV: 4:30 p.m., TBS

Site: Sacramento (Midwest Region)

Preview: Before Maurice Watson Jr. went down with a season-ending knee injury, Creighton looked like a Final Four contender. Now things are much more muddled. Marcus Foster is a dynamic playmaker in the backcourt and averages18.3 points per game. Justin Patton is a difference-maker inside. But the Bluejays have lost seven of 12 since Waston's injury. Rhode Island is red hot. The Rams are surging with a balanced offense led by E.C. Matthews (14.9 ppg) and have won eight in a row to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. It isn't unreasonable to think that streak will reach nine.

Prediction: Rhode Island 74, Creighton 72

No. 16 UC Davis vs. No. 1 Kansas

TV: 6:50 p.m., TNT

Site: Tulsa (Midwest Region)

Preview: Josh Jackson is back from suspension. With him, Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham in the lineup, Kansas is tough to stop. The Jayhawks are deadly on the perimeter, dominant around the basket and an elite defensive team. That's not good news for a UC Davis team that features no starter taller than 6-foot-7 forward J.T. Adenrele. The Aggies are a strong defensive team, holding four straight opponents to fewer than 65 points. But they also struggle to score and that won't get it done against a potent Kansas offense.

Prediction: Kansas 86, UC Davis 62

Related: UC Davis Aggies vs. Kansas Jayhawks Preview and Prediction

No. 10 Wichita State vs. No. 7 Dayton

TV: 7:10 p.m., CBS

Site: Indianapolis (South Region)

Preview: Wichita State is no ordinary No. 10 seed. Advanced metrics rate the Shockers as one of the top teams in the nation. It shows in how much Wichita State dominated the Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers have won 15 straight games and led the MVC in both scoring (82.1) and margin of victory (19.6). Markis McDuffie, Landry Shamet and Darral Willis Jr. all make important contributions to powering the offense. Dayton will test Wichita State defensively. The Flyers are second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring defense (66.5 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (41.3 percent). Charles Cooke, Kendall Pollard and Scoochie Smith are all dangerous scorers. This could be one of the best first round games. Wichita State will be motivated to make a statement after getting under-seeded by the selection committee.

Prediction: Wichita State 74, Dayton 67

Related: Wichita State Shockers vs. Dayton Flyers Preview and Prediction

No. 15 Troy vs. No. 2 Duke

TV: 7:20 p.m., TBS

Site: Greenville, S.C. (East Region)

Preview: If you enjoy seeing 3-point shooting contests, Troy and Duke are both happy to oblige. The Blue Devils' top four scorers shoot 33 percent or better from the perimeter, led by Luke Kennard, who makes 3-pointers at a 44.3 percent clip and averages a team-high 20.1 points per game. The Trojans average 8.5 made 3-pointers per contest and shoot 36.7 percent from distance. Duke also can get it done inside with Jayson Tatum, the team's No. 2 scorer (16.9 ppg) and rebounder (7.3 rpg). The Blue Devils are peaking at the right time, which limits the Trojans' chances to pull a major upset.

Prediction: Duke 81, Troy 71

Related: Troy Trojans vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview and Prediction

No. 11 Kansas State vs. No. 6 Cincinnati

TV: 7:27 p.m., TruTV

Site: Sacramento (Midwest Region)

Preview: Defense is Cincinnati's calling card. The Bearcats lock down opponents with ease, allowing just 60.8 points per game to rank fifth nationally in scoring defense. The offense is balanced, four players average 10 or more points for the Bearcats – led by Jacob Evans III with 13.7 points per game. Kansas State has solid momentum. Wesley Iwundu leads a balanced offense with 12.9 points per game that caught fire over the final week of the regular season. The Wildcats are much too inconsistent, however, to pose a serious threat to Cincinnati. Kansas State blows hot and cold on offense and it will cost them against the Bearcats.

Prediction: Cincinnati 66, Kansas State 58

No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 8 Miami

TV: 9:20 p.m., TNT

Site: Tulsa (Midwest Region)

Preview: The backcourt duel should be fun to watch here. Miami is led by the tandem of Davon Reed and Bruce Brown. They are tough to guard and both capable of torching opponents from the perimeter. Michigan State features swingman Miles Bridges, a potential NBA star in the making. Bridges averages 16.7 points and is a smart offensive player. The Spartans have struggled with turnovers all season – a major reason they entered the field with 14 losses – but Bridges can do enough to counteract this issue against an inconsistent Hurricanes squad.

Prediction: Michigan State 74, Miami 71

Related: Michigan State Spartans vs. Miami Hurricanes Preview and Prediction

No. 15 Northern Kentucky vs. No. 2 Kentucky

TV: 9:40 p.m., CBS

Site: Indianapolis (South Region)

Preview: Even though Kentucky is bursting at the seams with talent as usual, the Wildcats are not drawing much attention as a potential Final Four team. That's a mistake. Kentucky can overwhelm opponents on offense, especially when Malik Monk gets going. Monk can give the scoreboard a workout. He averages 20.4 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting. Northern Kentucky will have its hands full dealing with Monk, De'Aaron Fox and their supporting cast. Drew McDonald is a proficient scorer and rebounder at center, but he is only 6-foot-7. Without the size and speed to combat the Wildcats, the Norse aren't in for a long stay at their first NCAA Tournament.

Prediction: Kentucky 92, Northern Kentucky 68

Related: Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Kentucky Wildcats Preview and Prediction

No. 10 Marquette vs. No. 7 South Carolina

TV: 9:50 p.m., TBS

Site: Greenville, S.C. (East Region)

Preview: Forty-three years have passed since South Carolina last won an NCAA Tournament game. If the Gamecocks finally end the drought, defense will play a big role. South Carolina is proficient at forcing tough shots and creating turnovers. Offensively, Sindarius Thornwell is a reliable scoring threat who averages 21.0 points per game. Marquette has the tools to test the Gamecocks on defense. The Golden Eagles can score in bunches. Seven different players average eight or more points, led by Markus Howard (13.2 ppg). Marquette's offense is potent enough to neutralize South Carolina's defense. The Golden Eagles made a school record 312 3-pointers this season.

Prediction: Marquette 76, South Carolina 70

No. 14 Kent State vs. No. 3 UCLA

TV: 9:57 p.m., TruTV

Site: Sacramento (Midwest Region)

Preview: Few defenses are built to withstand what UCLA can do on offense. The Bruins lead the nation in scoring (90.4 ppg), field goal percentage (.519) and assists (709). It's a major reason why UCLA is a popular Final Four pick. Freshman Lozno Ball is the engine powering the offense and leads the nation in assists per game (7.7). Ball is a projected NBA lottery pick, along with forward T.J. Leaf – the team leader in scoring (16.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). Kent State has won nine of 10 behind the efforts of Jimmy Hall. The senior forward leads the Golden Flashes in both points (18.9) and rebounds (10.5). Still, it might be asking too much for Kent State to slow down UCLA enough to get the upset after the Golden Flashes lost to Oregon State earlier in the season.

Prediction: UCLA 91, Kent State 74

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.