Alright, Friday, let's see what you can do for an encore.
On Thursday, we had a buzzer-beater, an epic(ly terrible) late-game collapse, a freshman who had played 189 minutes all season coming in for a team's leading scorer to clinch a victory in overtime, four games that gave us free basketball, another pretty bad late-game collapse and seven contests overall that were decided by seven points or less.
The day started with a thriller between Dayton and Ohio State, and it ended over 13 hours later with arguably the most wild finish between San Diego State and New Mexico State.
If we can get even a fraction of the excitement on Day 2 of the second round, we are in line for yet another thrilling day.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know.
All Your Bracket Essentials:
Friday's Round-of-64 Schedule and Picks
|Round-of-64 Schedule and Picks: March 21, 2014|
|12:15 p.m.||No. 3 Duke||No. 14 Mercer||CBS||Duke|
|12:40 p.m.||No. 6 Baylor||No. 11 Nebraska||TruTV||Baylor|
|1:40 p.m.||No. 7 New Mexico||No. 10 Stanford||TBS||New Mexico|
|2:10 p.m.||No. 1 Arizona||No. 16 Weber State||TNT||Arizona|
|2:45 p.m.||No. 6 UMass||No. 11 Tennessee||CBS||Tennessee|
|3:10 p.m.||No. 3 Creighton||No. 14 UL-Lafayette||TruTV||Creighton|
|4:10 p.m.||No. 2 Kansas||No. 15 Eastern Kentucky||TBS||Kansas|
|4:40 p.m.||No. 8 Gonzaga||No. 9 Oklahoma State||TNT||Gonzaga|
|6:55 p.m.||No. 8 Memphis||No. 9 George Washington||TBS||Memphis|
|7:10 p.m.||No. 1 Wichita State||No. 16 Cal Poly||CBS||Wichita State|
|7:20 p.m.||No. 6 North Carolina||No. 11 Providence||TNT||Providence|
|7:27 p.m.||No. 5 Virginia Commonwealth||No. 12 Stephen F. Austin||TruTV||Stephen F. Austin|
|9:20 p.m.||No. 1 Virginia||No. 16 Coastal Carolina||TBS||Virginia|
|9:45 p.m.||No. 8 Kentucky||No. 9 Kansas state||CBS||Kentucky|
|9:50 p.m.||No. 3 Iowa State||No. 14 N.C. Central||TNT||Iowa State|
|9:57 p.m.||No. 4 UCLA||No. 13 Tulsa||TruTV||UCLA|
Odds Advice (Odds courtesy of VegasInsider.com)
Stephen F. Austin (+8) over VCU
HAVOC is beatable.
It's not exactly this simple, but a good way to limit VCU's effective full-court press is to simply play good defense. If the Rams don't score, they don't get into their press and are thus forced to play in the half court, where they are far less efficient. Then they don't score, and the potentially vicious cycle begins again.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the Lumberjacks excel at half-court defense. According to kenpom.com (subscription needed), Brad Underwood's squad forces turnovers on 24.4 percent of possessions, which is third most in the country.
Of course, VCU is first in that category, but Stephen F. Austin does it at a slow tempo and is far more efficient on the offensive end. At the very least, it'll be able to aggravate the Rams and keep the game close.
Giving the Lumberjacks, who haven't lost since Thanksgiving, eight points is a gift.
Providence vs. North Carolina: Under 147.5
Whether or not this game goes over or under could very well come down to which team makes the other play its style of game.
Still, even if the pace quickens, this is going to be a close game, meaning each team will likely have to be in the 70s for it to go over.
With Providence featuring a 2-3 zone that recently shut down Creighton, the most efficient offense in the country, and North Carolina having no shooters outside of Marcus Paige and Leslie McDonald, it's hard to imagine the Heels scoring at will.
The nation's leading scorer, Doug McDermott, talked about the Friars' zone after the Big East championship, via Yahoo! Sports' Christopher Wilson: "That zone is tough. I don’t think we were really expecting zone. I thought we were kind of panicking almost to start the game, and rushing stuff and not making the extra passes."
And on the other end, Providence has plenty of offensive talent, especially in Bryce Cotton, but UNC has quietly been very good on the defensive side of the ball this year—ranking 19th in Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings.
A first glance at this matchup might cause many to assume a high-scoring game, just because of all the athletes and talent. But there will be more defense than you're expecting.
Baylor (-2.5) over Nebraska
Baylor hit a rough patch during the middle of the season, but the Bears went 10-2 down the final stretch, which included a run to the Big 12 championship. Nebraska had a similar run, winning 10 of its last 13 to crack the Big Dance bubble.
As such, the small spread is understandable.
However, Baylor has too much size, too much length and too much talent. With Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Rico Gathers making up a massive frontcourt, the Bears are third in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and seventh in offensive efficiency, per kenpom.com.
Although Nebraska has plenty of size of its own, Walter Pitchford and Shavon Shields aren't a match for Austin and Jefferson.
Instead, the Cornhuskers will have to exploit the Bears' weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball, but while Terran Petteway is a stud, they just don't score consistently enough—99th in the country in offensive efficiency.
Tim Miles is a star and will probably make me pay for this one, but I'll take Baylor's size and athletes—along with the shooting of Brady Heslip—in what should be a slow, half-court battle.
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