Rick Pitino and No. 2 Louisville have a Tournament rematch with No. 10 Michigan for a spot in the Sweet 16
While Friday produced a few more upsets compared to Thursday, the first round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament saw the majority of the top seeds moving on. So even though there’s a lot of chalk in the bracket, the good news is that means there are plenty of high-quality teams in action on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday’s slate not only has No. 1 seeds North Carolina and Kansas on tap, but also Duke, Kentucky, Louisville , UCLA, Oregon and Baylor. There also are some recent Tournament rematches lined up, as well as a matchup between two championship-winning head coaches. Here is what you can expect on Sunday as the rest of the Sweet 16 comes into focus.
NCAA Tournament Sunday Second Round Games
Note: All times Eastern, some start times approximate
No. 7 Michigan vs. No. 2 Louisville
TV: 12:10 p.m. ET, CBS
Site: Indianapolis (Midwest Region)
Preview: Michigan edged No. 10 Oklahoma State 92-91 in one of the first round’s more entertaining games behind a school-record 16 made three-pointers. Derrick Walton Jr. led the way with six treys and 26 total points, as the Wolverines used their long-range shooting and excellent ball security (just four turnovers) to reel off their sixth straight win. Next up is a 2013 national title game rematch with Louisville. The Cardinals got off to a sluggish start against No. 15 Jacksonville State, but found their rhythm and wound up cruising to a 78-63 victory. Mangok Mathiang (18 points) was one of four Cardinals in double figures.
Sunday’s game will feature one of the most efficient offensive teams in Michigan (No. 4 per KenPOm.com) against one of the best on the other end of the floor in Louisville (No. 7). The Cardinals also thrive on creating turnovers (13.7 per game), but the Wolverines are among the best in taking care of the basketball (9.4 per game). If Michigan hits its shots early, it may be able to take Louisville out of its comfort zone.
Prediction: Louisville 72, Michigan 68
No. 10 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Kentucky
TV: 2:40 p.m., CBS
Site: Indianapolis (South Region)
Preview: Wichita State pulled away late in its opening game against No. 7 Daytona, relying more on defense in the 64-58 hard-fought victory. The Shockers held the Flyers to a season low in points and just 31 percent shooting from the field to earn their 16th straight victory. Wichita State will have to come up with more offense if it wants to beat Kentucky. The Wildcats had a more difficult time than expected against No. 15 Northern Kentucky but still came away with a 79-70 win. Malik Monk was just 3-for-11 from the field, but fellow freshmen Edrice Adebayo (15 points, 18 rebounds) and De’Aaron Fox (team-high 19 points) picked up the slack.
These teams are no strangers to each other, as Kentucky beat Wichita State 78-76 in the second round of the 2014 Tournament when the Shockers entered the game 35-0. Offense shouldn’t be hard to come by in this matchup, so it may come down to which team executes better or how the Wildcats’ talented freshmen respond following Friday’s uneven performance.
Prediction: Kentucky 78, Wichita State 75
No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Kansas
TV: 5:15 p.m., CBS
Site: Tulsa (Midwest Region)
Preview: Michigan State overcame a slow start against No. 8 Miami, but turned things around in a big way in a dominating 78-58 win over the Hurricanes. The Spartans not only avenged last season’s shocking opening loss to Middle Tennessee, but this also could serve as a turning point for their talented freshmen. The trio of Nick Ward, Miles Bridges and Joshua Langford combined for 50 points on 21-of-31 shooting from the field. Kansas meanwhile had little trouble with No. 15 UC Davis, routing the Aggies 100-62. Freshman Josh Jackson put up 17 points and seven rebounds in his return from a one-game suspension as all five Jayhawk starters scored in double digits.
Kansas is the deeper and more experienced team, led by All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year Frank Mason III, but Michigan State won’t go away quietly. This also is the best coaching matchup of the Tournament so far, pitting Tom Izzo against Bill Self. The two have combined for two national titles, nine Final Four appearances and more than 1,100 career wins.
Prediction: Kansas 78, Michigan State 68
No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 1 North Carolina
TV: 6:10 p.m., TNT
Site: Greenville, S.C. (South Region)
Preview: As expected, North Carolina had little trouble with No. 16 Texas Southern on Thursday, winning 103-64. Justin Jackson hit five three-pointers to pace the Tar Heels with 21 points. North Carolina dominated the boards, collecting twice as many rebounds (54 to 27) as the Tigers, scoring 52 points in the paint and coming up with 29 second-chance points. The only concern for the Heels was when point guard Joel Berry rolled his ankle in the second half. He was able to return, but his health will be key against Arkansas.
The Razorbacks beat Seton Hall 77-71 in a closely contested contest. Moses Kingsley and Jaylen Barford combined for 43 points, as Arkansas made the most of its free throws (18-for-23) in the win over the Pirates, despite getting out-rebounded 46-32. The Razorbacks must do a better job on the boards against North Carolina, the nation’s top rebounding team. The last five meetings between these two teams have come in the NCAA Tournament (2015, ’08, 1995, ’93, ’90). The Tar Heels hold a slight 3-2 edge in those games.
Prediction: North Carolina 80, Arkansas 70
No. 11 Rhode Island vs. No. 3 Oregon
TV: 7:10 p.m., TBS
Site: Sacramento (Midwest Region)
Preview: Rhode Island picked up its first NCAA Tournament win in nearly 20 years, beating No. 6 Creighton 84-72. Jeff Dowtin scored a career-high 23 points, as he and E.C. Matthews combined to go 20-for-20 from the free throw line. The Rams prevented a cold-shooting Bluejays (40 percent from the field) team from ever mounting any sort of a sustained run. Rhode Island’s defense will be put to the test against Oregon, who scored 55 in the first half against No. 14 Iona in an eventual 93-77 victory. Tyler Dorsey led the way for the Ducks with 24 points while Jordan Bell recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Oregon loves to get up and down the floor and take advantage of its athleticism, while Rhode Island prefers a slower pace and to wear down opponents with its physical defense. Whichever team dictates tempo early could determine how this game plays out.
Prediction: Oregon 72, Rhode Island 64
No. 11 USC vs. No. 3 Baylor
TV: 7:45 p.m., truTV
Site: Tulsa (East Region)
Preview: USC continued the recent success of teams that come out of the First Four, beating No. 6 SMU 66-65 in a thriller. For the second straight game, the Trojans overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to win, this time using a late three-pointer by Elijah Stewart to seal the deal. Stewart led the way for USC with 22 points, as the Trojans will play their third game in five days when they face Baylor. The Bears overcame their own halftime deficit and out-scored No. 14 New Mexico State by 20 points in the second half to win going away, 91-73. Al Freeman led five Baylor players in double figures with 21 points off of the bench.
USC has been fueled by the scoring of Stewart, Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu in its first two Tournament wins, but has gotten very little production from anyone else. Those three will need to stay hot since Baylor brings more balance and is one of the best rebounding teams (+8.9 margin) in the nation.
Prediction: Baylor 80, USC 70
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 2 Duke
TV: 8:40 p.m., TNT
Site: Greenville, S.C. (East Region)
Preview: South Carolina picked up its first NCAA Tournament win since 1973 in a 93-73 rout of No. 10 Marquette. The Golden Eagles led by one at halftime before the Gamecocks put up 54 points in a second half blitzing. Sindarius Thornwell led the way with 29 points and 11 rebounds. Duke cruised by No. 15 Troy 87-65 behind its long-range shooting (13-for-28 from three-point range) and balanced scoring. Grayson Allen came off of the bench and scored a game-high 21 points, while freshman Jayson Tatum recorded a double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds).
Frank Martin-coached teams are known for their defense and South Carolina forced Marquette into 18 turnovers on Friday. The Gamecocks will need a similar effort and to really defend the three-point line against the Blue Devils. Coming off its ACC Tournament title, Duke seems to be finding its stride at just the right time and probably has too many weapons for South Carolina to overcome.
Prediction: Duke 80, South Carolina 68
No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 3 UCLA
TV: 9:40 p.m., TBS
Site: Sacramento (South Region)
Preview: Cincinnati clamped down on No. 11 Kansas State on Friday, limiting the Wildcats to just 38.9 percent shooting and 23 rebounds in the Bearcats’ 75-61 win. Senior guard Troy Caupain paced Cincinnati with 23 points and tied for the team lead with seven rebounds. UCLA took care of business against No. 14 Kent State, winning easily 97-80. T.J. Leaf tied for game-high honors with 23 points, while freshman star point guard Lonzo Ball scored 15 on 6-of-7 shooting. The Bruins shot 62.7 percent from the field, had 25 assists and just six turnovers as a team.
Cincinnati is one of the better defensive teams in the country (11th in adjusted efficiency), according to the KenPom.com rankings, but UCLA is No. 2 on offense. Even if the Bearcats are able to slow down Ball, Leaf and company, do they have enough firepower to pull off the upset?
Prediction: UCLA 75, Cincinnati 69