NCAA Bracket 2013: Analyzing Friday's No. 8 vs. No. 9 Matchups

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NCAA Bracket 2013: Analyzing Friday's No. 8 vs. No. 9 Matchups
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Matchups between No. 8 and No. 9 seeds have generally produced nail-biters throughout NCAA tournament history.

On Thursday in the round of 64, we saw No. 9 Wichita State stun No. 8 Pittsburgh, scoring 47 points in the second half en route to a 73-55 blowout victory.

There are two matchups featuring No. 8 and No. 9 seeds on Friday. Here's a breakdown of each matchup, complete with predictions.

All stats via ESPN.com and TeamRankings.com.


N.C. State (8) vs. Temple (9)

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
C.J. Leslie (right) and Richard Howell (left) lead N.C. State.

Both N.C. State and Temple have had their fair share of troubles on the defensive side of the ball. It's N.C. State's offense—complete with star C.J. Leslie—that will be the difference.

Leslie is averaging 14.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals this season. But it's about more than Leslie. As a team, the Wolfpack rank an impressive 14th in offensive efficiency. Four other players are averaging 12 points or more, including senior forward Richard Howell (12.7 points, 10.7 rebounds).

The Owls rank 163rd in defensive efficiency and 195th in opponents' field-goal percentage. That doesn't bode well for them against N.C. State.

That's not even taking into account the fact that Temple ranks 207th in the nation in rebounding rate (N.C. State ranks 80th). 

Despite this being an No. 8-No. 9 matchup, I don't expect it to be close at all.

Prediction: N.C. State advances

 

North Carolina (8) vs. Villanova (9)

North Carolina vs. Villanova: March Madness Preview

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North Carolina has won eight of its last 10 games headed into the 2013 NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels beat N.C. State on Feb. 23 and their only losses came to Duke and Miami (FL).

Villanova has scuffled into the tournament, losing three of its last five games, including a defeat to Seton Hall and an embarrassment at the hands of Louisville in the Big East tournament.

The Wildcats offense ultimately bothers me. They rank 262nd in the nation in field goal-percentage and 219th in offensive efficiency.

Meanwhile, while North Carolina isn't a force offensively, the Tar Heels are decent in that regard (65th in offensive efficiency) and they have a star to lean on in sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, a potential first-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

I like Roy Williams' squad advancing to the Round of 32.

Prediction: North Carolina advances

 

Don't forget to print out your bracket and follow along with the live bracketFollow all the exciting NCAA tournament action with March Madness Live.


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