The 5 Most Enticing Matchups This Weekend
5. North Carolina (8) vs. Kansas (1) - Sunday, 5:15 PM EST.
Roy Williams has done a lot in his 10 years in North Carolina, but the one thing he hasn’t been able to do yet is defeat his former team in the NCAA tournament. Williams coached Kansas for 15 years, winning 4 conference championships and reaching 4 final fours. Since he joined North Carolina, his Tar Heels are 0-2 against Kansas in the tournament, losing in the semi-finals in 2008 and in the Sweet Sixteen just last year.
What better time to get back at your old school then when they’re one of the top 4 seeds in the country?
Kansas looked extremely vulnerable against Western Kentucky, who put the pressure on a turnover-prone Jayhawks team. Western Kentucky shot only 21-66 from the field, but still only lost by 7. Well North Carolina’s coming off a game where they put up 78 points on 49% field goals. If they can frustrate Kansas as much as the Hilltoppers, Kansas could be the first 1-seed to head home early. (And if you’re looking for another #1 at risk of going down in the round of 32, Gonzaga may have a bit of trouble dealing with a Wichita State team that looked great on Thursday).
4. Butler (6) vs. Marquette (3) - Saturday, 7:45 PM EST.
Marquette barely escaped in the most exciting of all 32 second round games. Butler had a bit of a scare against Bucknell, but stayed strong. In a matchup between two great coaches in Brad Stevens and Buzz Williams, will Butler have the ability to mark up against the athletic Golden Eagles? It’s tough to bet against Butler in tournament play, huh?
3. Oregon (12) vs. St. Louis (4) - Saturday, 7:10 PM EST.
They’re the talk of the town - according to OK State coach Travis Ford, at least. The Oregon Ducks have officially become the ‘NCAA Selection Committee’s Ultimate Blunder’ because of their mysteriously low seeding compared with the 6-ranked UCLA Bruins who lost to the Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship game. Then the combination of Oregon’s convincing win against 5-seeded Oklahoma State and UCLA’s 20-point loss to 11-seeded Minnesota put the icing on the cake.
Now the Ducks will face a St. Louis team that has a considerable amount of buzz as well. After a big-time first game performance by Forward Dwayne Evans (24 points on 11-16 FGs), the Billikins will be looking to end the Ducks Cinderella hopes early. They play smart basketball and rarely ever beat themselves.
2. Florida Golf Coast (15) vs. San Diego St. (7) - Sunday, 7:10 PM EST.
If you’re not a Hoya fan or someone who penciled Georgetown into their final four, you should be extremely excited to see the upbeat, frisky Eagles of Florida Golf Coast get a chance to become the first 15-seed to move on to the Sweet 16. They’ve got a dangerous pair of scorers in Bernard Thompson and Sherwood Brown, along with the hustle of Brett Comer and the energizer Chase Fieler to help keep the magic going. San Diego State looked tough against Oklahoma behind Jamaal Franklin’s 21 points, but don’t expect the Eagles to go down without a fight.
1. Virginia Commonwealth (5) vs. Michigan (4) - Saturday, 12:15 PM EST.
In the only 4-5 matchup this weekend (Thanks 12-seeds), a high-energy, turnover driven VCU team takes on a disciplined, turnover-free Michigan team. Where VCU’s Shaka Smart turns on the press all game to make his opponents uneasy and uncomfortable, Michigan’s John Beilein focuses on maximizing possessions and shot attempts by never giving into defensive pressure. VCU hasn’t faced a point guard like Trey Burke all year, but Michigan hasn’t faced as active a defense as VCU’s all year as well. A Sweet 16 matchup against Kansas could potentially be on the line: who will get their shot?