1. Indiana (28-6) vs. 9. Temple (24-9):
Indiana is the best team in the tournament, the Hoosiers play fast-break basketball and tough man-to-man defense; they’ve got a really good big man in Cody Zeller and plenty of guards. Temple had a great victory over NC State Friday but the Owls are a one-man team in Khalif Wyatt who is capable of carrying the Owls. Indiana needs to send an extra defender at him and let the other Owls beat him. BU transfer Jake O’Brien had a big afternoon against NC State and the Owls need a repeat of that.
2. Miami (28-6) vs. 7. Illinois (23-12):
The Hurricanes flexed their muscles Friday in squashing Pacific in an impressive effort. They’re one of the most well-balanced teams in the tournament with impressive inside and outside games. That’s going to be hard for Illinois to defend; the Illini are really no match for the Hurricanes inside.
1. Kansas (30-5) vs. 8. North Carolina (25-10):
This should be a high-scoring game as both teams like to get up and down. Kansas didn’t looked great in beating Western Kentucky Friday, but they’ve played well since a three-game losing streak in early February. The Jayhawks are a top-notch shooting team (48 percent) and lead the nation in field goal percentage defense. The Tar Heels have been an underachieving group of McDonald’s All-Americans most of the season; they’re capable of the upset but they’ve failed to show they can put together a complete game.
3. Florida (27-7) vs. 11. Minnesota (21-12):
Florida’s been criticized for its failure to win on the road but these game are all on neutral courts. Despite its seed, Minnesota is better than its record. This should be a really good matchup between sets of guards but I believe Florida’s is slightly better. The wild card for Minnesota is center Trevor Mbakwe who is just a shadow of himself because of injuries. If he’s feeling well, he could have a big game and swing it in the Gophers’ favor.
7. San Diego State (22-10) vs. 15. Florida Gulf Coast (25-10):
Gulf Coast looked sensational in beating Georgetown but remember this, the Eagles didn’t even win the Atlantic Sun regular-season title. Mercer did. If they play as well as they played against Georgetown, they have a chance but San Diego State should be able to handle their athleticism better than the Hoyas did and just might be a more difficult matchup. Jamal Franklin should have a big game for the Aztecs.
2. Duke (28-5) vs. 7. Creighton (28-7):
Creighton showed some toughness in its victory over Cincinnati, matching the Bearcats physically then making free throws down the stretch. Duke will be physical too but the game should be a lot more wide open. Creighton, not known for great defense, needs to tighten up on that end. Overall, the Bluejays match up pretty well and it will be interesting to see how Duke coach Mike Krzyewski defends Doug McDermott.
2. Ohio State (27-7) vs. 10. Iowa State (23-11):
Both these teams played well Friday with Ohio State beating Iona and Iowa vaporizing Notre Dame. The Buckeyes, led by forward Deshaun Thomas and guard Aaron Craft, will defend Iowa State more tightly than ND did. However, the Cyclones will looking to score inside with big guys Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang (from Methuen) outplayed the more heralded Notre Dame front line.
12. Mississippi (27-8) vs. 13. La Salle (23-9):
The Explorers have been outstanding for 60 minutes and then hanging on for dear life for 30 minutes. They hung on to beat Kansas State after blowing a 19-point lead. The Explorers’ bevy of guards, led by Ramon Galloway, is dynamic and right now they’re playing very well. Jerrell Wright is the lone big man and Ole Miss has some bulk up front. The Rebels also have Marshall Henderson, a wild gunner who can shoot Mississippi in or out of games. The Rebels need to slow the pace and pound the ball inside.