Welcome to the best two days in sports.
There is absolutely nothing like the round of 64 at the NCAA tournament. Where else can you watch 32 games in a span of about 36 hours?
Sure, some of those battles are Louisville vs. North Carolina A&T, but the rest are usually candidates for instant classics—draped in intriguing matchups, buzzer-beaters and unknown Cinderellas rising to hero status.
If that sounds like something you might be interested in, check out the most enticing Friday matchups.
Note: A printable bracket and live, updated bracket can both be found at the bottom of this page.
Also note: All stats come courtesy of BBstate.com, unless noted otherwise.
No. 7 Creighton vs. No. 10 Cincinnati
Creighton and Cincinnati go together like peanut butter and, um, cement.
So, not really well at all.
The Bluejays are one of the most efficient, smooth (so, in this case, they are creamy peanut butter) teams in America. They play at a slow pace, but run their sets to perfection, rely on the best half-court scorer in the nation in Doug McDermott and shoot the lights out. They are first in the country in three-point field-goal percentage and first in effective field-goal percentage.
Mick Cronin's team, meanwhile, is tough, physical and aggressive. Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright harass opposing guards, and the 'Cats will drag you through the mud. They give up just 0.876 points per possession (11th least in the country)—and even getting there is a grind.
Honorable mention: If contrasting styles pique your interest, Mississippi's ultra-fast, Marshall-Henderson-powered attack against Wisconsin is another one to watch.
No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 13 La Salle
If you watched La Salle vs. Boise State on Wednesday night, you probably noticed two things:
1) La Salle can score, and 2) the more guards, the better.
Bruce Weber's Wildcats have more size and are better defensively than Boise State, but much like the Broncos, they surround one big with four guards.
So, while the Explorers won't shoot 63.3 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from long range again, watching Ramon Galloway, Sam Mills and Tyrone Garland go head-to-head with Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez—without many big, bumbling centers getting in the way—will be galvanizing.
Honorable mention: Guards, guards, guards, guards; guards you do adore? North Carolina and Villanova, which both enjoy pushing the pace, have plenty of ball-handlers, shooters and slashers.
No. 6 UCLA vs. No. 11 Minnesota
This one shouldn't intrigue me.
The Bruins, despite winning the Pac-12 regular season title, have been far too inconsistent for how much talent is on that roster. Without Jordan Adams, they become even more of an underwhelming horse to ride in your bracket.
Minnesota is the same. Rodney Williams is like a kangaroo and 'Dre Hollins is always a candidate to drop 40 (just ask Memphis), but the Golden Gophers lost 11 of their last 16 (!!) games to end the season.
But still, this one is worth watching to see what happens on the glass (Minnesota's biggest strength, UCLA's biggest weakness), to see if anyone can stop Shabazz Muhammad's unbelievable will to win and to see if the losing coach gets fired on the spot.
Honorable mention: Check out NC State (against Temple) if you want to see if elite, underperforming talent can finally live up to expectations.