NCAA Tournament Schedule 2013: Full Breakdown of Friday's Action
With the first four teams into the Sweet 16, we must now prepare for Day 2 of the 2013 NCAA tournament's Sweet 16. With four games remaining to shape the Elite Eight, we'll see two No. 1 seeds and March Madness' ultimate underdog.
So what should we be watching for and where can we see it?
Two No. 1 seeds will be in action, Louisville taking on No. 12 Oregon and Kansas battling No. 4 Michigan. We'll also see in-state rivals square off when No. 3 Florida plays the ultimate underdog, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast.
If that's not enough for you, how about a clash of the legends with Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans facing Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils? That's what I thought.
So where can you witness the excitement take form?
No. 1 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 12 Oregon Ducks, Midwest Region
Time: 7:15 p.m. ET
Records: Louisville (31-5, 14-4 Big East) vs. Oregon (28-8, 12-6 Pac-12)
Key Factor: Rebounding
As often appears to be the case, the winner of the battle on the glass will be the winner of the game. That's certain to be the case between two of the best rebounding teams in the nation.
So who will emerge with the advantage?
Oregon is a balanced rebounding team, five players averaging at least 3.5 per game and eight with at least 2.0. That includes Arsalan Kazemi, who rests at 9.9 per game for the season and 16.5 for the NCAA tournament.
Just don't sell Louisville short.
Six separate Cardinals are averaging at least 3.0 rebounds, while eight grab at least 2.0. That includes Gorgui Dieng, who has averaged 9.5 per game for the season and 5.0 for the tournament.
Oregon seems to have the edge—the question is, how will it pan out?
No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. No. 4 Michigan Wolverines, South Region
Time: 7:37 p.m. ET
Records: Kansas (31-5, 14-4 Big 12) vs. Michigan (28-7, 12-6 Big Ten)
Key Factor: Perimeter Play
Thus far in the 2012-13 NCAA tournament, Michigan point guard Trey Burke has lived up to his billing as a Naismith Award finalist. Not only has he led the Wolverines to the Sweet 16, but he put up 18 points and seven assists against VCU.
The same can't be said for potential No. 1 draft choice Ben McLemore.
McLemore has been horrendous, shooting 2-of-14 for the tournament. That includes an 0-of-9 performance during the round of 32, which has some questioning whether or not he can handle the big moments.
He'll need to if the Jayhawks are to win this game.
Michigan enters this game with a perimeter consisting of Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. All three of those players have been on top of their games, with Hardaway stepping up in the clutch and GRIII providing an athletic burst.
Kansas, meanwhile, is led by McLemore, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford. Although McLemore has struggled, Releford has been a surprising source of offense.
Whichever perimeter performs better will win this game.
No. 2 Duke Blue Devils vs. No. 3 Michigan State Spartans, Midwest Region
Time: 9:45 p.m. ET
Records: Duke (29-5, 14-4 ACC) vs. Michigan State (27-8, 13-5 Big Ten)
Key Factor: Interior Presence
No one in the building will be foolish enough to ignore how historic this game could be. Not only are we going to witness two elite teams going head-to-head, but we'll see a battle between two legendary coaches.
With Tom Izzo leading the Michigan State Spartans against Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils, anything is possible.
The truth of the matter is, schematics will be meaningless if the interior players on each respective team fail to show up. Although both teams are capable of shooting the three, it all starts inside.
Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be in for a battle with Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne.
Kelly and Payne have both proven to be valuable commodities, as they space the floor with their shooting. Payne is also capable of putting it on the floor and attacking the basket.
Plumlee, meanwhile, was a front-runner for National Player of the Year for a majority of this season. In order to prove worthy of that notoriety, Plumlee must overcome the bruising style of Nix.
This isn't going to be pretty, but it could create the makings for a legendary clash.
No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, South Region
Time: 10:07 p.m. ET
Records: Florida (28-7, 14-4 SEC) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (26-10, 13-5 A-Sun)
Key Factor: Transition Defense
The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have pulled off the unthinkable, defeating No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State. In turn, they've become the first No. 15 seed in NCAA history to reach the Sweet 16.
They've reached this plateau by overwhelming their opponents with their explosive nature as a fast-break offense.
The Florida Gators, meanwhile, are an efficient scoring team that moves the ball very well. They're eighth in field-goal percentage, in the top 35 in assists per game and shoot at a clip of 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Matching the Eagles' offensive production won't be an issue.
The question is, which team will step up on the defensive end of the floor? Limiting scoring opportunities will be the key to victory in this one, as both teams are capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
If it's not that, we all have one simple question—can the magic continue for the ultimate Cinderella, Florida Gulf Coast?
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