Reporting Matt Ryan
What better way to follow up 12 hours of watching college basketball, then with another slate of 16 games today. The action begin around noon and will once again end after midnight. Here’s a preview of six key matchups that could shake up the brackets with the field now down to 48 teams.
1:4opm – TBS – #9 Temple vs. #8 NC State
The Wolfpack were one of the breakout team’s of last year’s tournament which set up sky high expectations for 2013. North Carolina State hasn’t lived up to their preseason hype for much of the season, but the pack could begin to reverse that trend with a win against Temple, setting up a potential showdown with the Indiana Hoosiers on Sunday.
2:45pm – CBS – #10 Cincinnati vs. #7 Creighton
Its a battle of a current Big East team against a team that will soon be joining the brand new Big East. Doug McDermott has led Creighton to their second straight MVC title and has made the Bluejays a popular bracket-busting pick this March. The MVC champions will have to get past an athletic-Bearcats squad before setting their sights on Atlanta and beyond.
3:10pm – TruTv – #13 La Salle vs. #4 Kansas State
La Salle is coming off their first tourney win in 23 years and Kansas State is coming off their first share of a conference title in 36 years. The Explores haven’t advanced past the Sweet Sixteen since 1955 and the Wildcats are in the Big Dance for the fifth time since 2008. Kansas State is heavily favored to win this game, but can’t over look La Salle after their play-in win over Boise State.
6:50pm – TBS – #15 Florida Gulf Coast College vs. #2 Georgetown
Last time the Final Four was held in the Peach State, the Hoyas made it all the way to Atlanta with a squad led by Roy Hibbert and Jeff Green. Georgetown is a popular pick to return there again this year and begins their tournament against an FGCC team that beat another second-seed, Miami, 63-51 in their second regular season game of the year.
7:20pm – TNT – #9 Villanova vs. #8 UNC
An intriguing eight-nine matchup between two teams there were on the bubble late in the regular season. Villanova beat three teams ranked in the top five during Big East play and North Carolina has won eight of their last ten. The winner is likely to face Kansas in the round of 32.
9:57pm – TruTv – #11 Minnesota vs. #6 UCLA
The Gophers and Bruins are two of the more difficult teams to figure out in the bracket. Minnesota had wins against Indiana and Michigan State in the regular season, but also some surprising losses against the likes of Northwestern, Iowa, and Nebraska. UCLA struggled at times in conference play, despite a highly regarded freshman class. The Bruins won 9 of their previous 11 games before losing to Oregon, 78-69 in the NCAA Tournament.
Overtime: The Wizard of Minneapolis
With this matchup occurring, its worth noting how John Wooden almost became Minnesota’s head coach in 1948, instead of the Wizard of Westwood. The Gophers were pursuing him as their next head coach, but inclement weather prevented a phone interview from occurring (something that probably wouldn’t occur in today’s day and age). Wooden thought the Gophers had lost interest in him as a candidate and by the time they got in contact with him, he had already accepted the same position at UCLA.