The 2013 NCAA tournament has already begun, but if you want to keep up with all the action on your bracket (print yours here), invest in Friday’s entire schedule of games.
With several major programs on upset alert, Friday offers exactly what a sports fan needs to cure their case of March Madness.
All of the following teams will be looking over their shoulder at their second-round opponent. Indeed, there is no doubt that some of the higher-seeded teams in the NCAA tournament could certainly lose on Friday.
The madness has started.
No. 2 Duke Blue Devils
The No. 2 Duke Blue Devils come into Friday’s Midwest Region matchup with the No. 15 Albany Great Danes (12:15 p.m. ET on CBS) as heavy 18-point favorites (via Covers.com).
While the Blue Devils deserve immense credit for their 27-5 regular-season record and offensive prowess (sixth in the nation with 78.3 points per game), being favored by as much as Duke currently is can give the team a sense of entitlement.
The Great Danes have nothing to lose and have the backcourt talent to make a Blue Devils team that could take them lightly pay. Duke starts three guards (Seth Curry, Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook) and will face their toughest test of the year when Albany’s own elite backcourt, made up of Mike Black, Jacob Iati and Peter Hooley, fight to upset the No. 2 seed.
Duke still has enough of an advantage in the low post with power forward Mason Plumlee to steal a win, but the Great Danes will not go quietly into that good NCAA night.
No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats
The No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats had an undeniably great season in the Big 12 Conference, but a matchup on Friday in the West Region with the No. 13 La Salle Explorers (3:10 p.m. ET truTV) could be the upset that sends K-State home early.
Do not sleep on the Explorers.
La Salle was forced to beat the Boise State Broncos in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and the head start to the event may have been just what the hot-shooting Explorers (led by standout Tyrone Garland) needed ahead of their matchup with the Wildcats on Friday.
As great as Kansas State’s record was this season, six of the team’s losses came against ranked teams in key moments. There is no bigger stage than the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats will need senior guard Rodney McGruder (15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and two assists per game) to be the linchpin for the team’s success on Friday. However, if La Salle shoots the way they did against Boise State, Kansas State is in serious trouble no matter what they do.
No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers
When the No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers square off against the No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels in one of Friday’s best matchups (12:40 p.m. ET truTV), the Badgers will officially be on upset alert.
The West Region is stacked with great potential matchups, but the thought of the Rebels’ star guard Marshall Henderson (20.1 points per game) running the floor against the tough defense of Wisconsin is the ultimate “unstoppable force meets an immovable object” scenario.
As well as the Badgers have played all season, the team’s biggest advantage over their competition was their willingness and ability to rebound with the best in the nation (36.9 rebounds per game was good enough for 71st).
Unfortunately for Wisconsin, Ole Miss is 19th in the country in rebounding and doesn’t mind getting physical. That physical pressure is the kind of scheme that gave the Badgers trouble during the regular season, and the Rebels have Wisconsin on upset alert in the second round.
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