NCAA Tournament 2013 Schedule: Round of 64 Games Nobody Should Miss

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2013

Jan 26, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Minnesota Gophers head coach Tubby Smith talks to guard Joe Coleman (left) as their team plays the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center. Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 45-44. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The round of 64 features so many games that are sure to be fun to watch, but no individual fan can concentrate on so many at one time. However, there are a small handful that should not be missed under any circumstances.

These games may have that status because of surefire upsets waiting to happen, key players to watch or just because they'll be close from start to finish. Either way, no March Madness buff should miss them if they can help it.

This includes opening-round games like Minnesota versus UCLA, as the clash of offense versus athleticism is surely going to keep the score close from beginning to end. Moreover, Tubby Smith's boys are likely to be playing with chips on their shoulders after such a weak close to their season, including a stunner to Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament.

But that's just one game, and there are tons of others in the round of 64 that should not be forgotten. If you have the time and room within your DVR, should that become necessary, definitely be sure to tune into these key matchups.


No. 5 UNLV vs. No. 12 California

These teams flew under the radar all season long, but each is strong in its own right.

UNLV fought and clawed its way to the Mountain West Championship Game, but lost to New Mexico. Just the same, the Runnin' Rebels are a team to watch.

Freshman Anthony Bennett was instrumental in leading the team to a 25-9 overall record, leading the way with 16.1 points and 8.1 boards per game. UNLV was also sixth in the nation in rebounding.

They face a feisty foe in the California Golden Bears, who went 20-11 on the year and were led by guard Allen Crabbe. The junior averaged 18.7 points and six rebounds per game, making 46 percent of his shots from the field and shooting 35 percent from long range.

These two teams also faced off on Dec. 9, with UNLV pulling off a last-second victory following a strong Cal comeback. This game is going to be full of adrenaline from start to finish, and fans should definitely tune in if they like incredibly close games.


No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 Minnesota

The Bruins had a lot of hype leading up to the tournament, but then freshman Jordan Adams broke his foot, leaving the team without 15.3 points per game and a solid scorer to help complement star Shabazz Muhammad. Suddenly, UCLA will be in for the fight of its life against a tough Minnesota team.

Tubby Smith's Golden Gophers are led by senior Trevor Mbakwe, whose 8.7 rebounds per game led the team and helped Minnesota rank 17th in the nation in the statistic. Throw in decent scoring from Andre (13.9 PPG) and Austin (10.6 PPG) Hollins, and Minnesota is not a team to be counted out despite a weak offense.

However, as we saw all season long and in the team's victory over Indiana on Feb. 26, Minnesota's game in the paint is strong. Seeing as how UCLA is very reliant on its scorers and not the best at rebounding, Minnesota could be in a prime position for an upset.

Regardless of how the game plays out, fans should tune in simply because both teams are incredibly fun to watch. From Shabazz Muhammad's magic with scoring to Minnesota's overall toughness, this is not one that should be missed at all.


No. 7 Creighton vs. No. 10 Cincinnati

No matter how you look at it, Bluejays forward Doug McDermott is fun to watch. He averaged 23.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season, and also shot 56 percent from the field and a deadly 50 percent from long range. This certainly helped Creighton win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and finish first in the nation in field-goal percentage.

That said, it's going to be interesting to see how this hot-shooting squad matches up against Cincinnati, of the ever-tough Big East. The Bearcats aren't the strongest scoring team, but they did rank eighth in rebounding.

Against a Creighton squad that thrives on lights-out shooting, Cincinnati could easily have an advantage should the shots not be falling in the Blue Jays' favor. Either way, if not just for McDermott, fans should tune into this game solely for the purpose of seeing a small conference team take on a larger one, as the sparks will surely be flying.


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