The insanity that is March Madness has been reasonably tame thus far in the round of 32 outside of Dayton pulling off the upset over Syracuse. But with a full slate of NCAA tournament games taking place on Sunday, several Cinderellas are looking to see if the glass slipper still fits.
Unheralded programs like Mercer and Stephen F. Austin shined during their tournament openers. In order to truly enter the lore of the NCAA tournament history, both will have to knock off the likes of UCLA and Tennessee and make the Sweet 16.
All Your Bracket Essentials
With several teams already advancing to the second weekend of play, several double-digit seeds will take the court on Sunday with hopes of reaching the Sweet 16 or even the Elite Eight and beyond.
Before the action in the second day of the round of 32 officially gets underway, here's a look at the rest of the weekend's schedule as well as breaking down some of the most intriguing contests.
|Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream|
|No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 2 Kansas||12:15 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com|
|No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Wichita State||2:45 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com|
|No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Iowa State||5:15 p.m.||CBS||NCAA.com|
|No. 14 Mercer vs. No. 11 Tennessee||6:10 p.m.||TNT||NCAA.com|
|No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 UCLA||7:10 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com|
|No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 3 Creighton||7:45 p.m.||TruTV||NCAA.com|
|No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 1 Virginia||8:40 p.m.||TNT||NCAA.com|
|No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 Arizona||9:40 p.m.||TBS||NCAA.com|
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 UCLA
Call them what you want. Stephen F. Austin is lucky, fortunate and living on the edge so far in the tournament.
But one thing the Lumberjacks aren't is undeserving. Clutch shooting and maybe a little bit of luck late against VCU propelled Stephen F. Austin into the second round following a four-point play to send the game into overtime as the Jacks kept dancing.
David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described the madness thus far and the dramatic finish:
Can't remember an NCAA Tourney first round quite this dramatic and entertaining. You kidding me with that Stephen F. Austin-VCU finish....— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) March 22, 2014
While UCLA has been on a hot streak en route to a Pac-12 Championship, the Bruins haven't faced a team as hot as Stephen F. Austin. The Jacks are on a 29-game winning streak and haven't lost in four months, as Brett Edgerton of ESPN.com notes:
Stephen F. Austin hasn't lost a basketball game since Nov. 23. Quick, someone look up gas prices on that date.— Brett Edgerton (@EditorEdge) March 22, 2014
Behind the hot shooting of Jacob Parker and Desmond Haymon, the Jacks will continue their improbable run into the Sweet 16. What comes next for the Lumberjacks is a date with the No. 1 overall-seeded Florida Gators.
Let's just say the winning streak will end at 30 following a win over the Bruins.
Prediction: Stephen F. Austin 63, UCLA 61
No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Iowa State
Just five games into the conference schedule, North Carolina was 1-4 and looked like an outsider for consideration into the NCAA tournament.
With Duke, N.C. State, N.C. Central and UNC all making the tournament field, the Tar Heels stand as the only remaining member of the Triangle with hopes of a national championship. The Heels are also one of just two teams from the ACC still in the tournament along with No. 1 Virginia.
Running up against an offensive machine might have meant the end of the road for Carolina, but a stroke of bad luck for Iowa State could benefit the Heels. Georges Niang, one of the Cyclones' starters and most productive offensive players, suffered a broken foot, per the team's official Twitter account:
Georges Niang has a foot fracture and will miss the remainder of the season.— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneMBB) March 22, 2014
Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg spoke about the loss, according to the team's account:
Hoiberg on Niang: "Obviously it's a very big loss for us. We're definitely going to miss what he and his skillset bring to this team."— Cyclone Basketball (@CycloneMBB) March 22, 2014
With the Cyclones missing one of their most dominant players down low, the Heels have a distinct advantage for James Michael McAdoo in the paint. And with Marcus Paige orchestrating the offense, Carolina looks primed for another run to the Sweet 16 after falling just short last season against Kansas.
As the last remaining member of Tobacco Road in the tournament, the Heels will have all eyes on them. Thanks to great play from both Paige and McAdoo, UNC will continue to dance its way into the second weekend of play as every other team watches from Raleigh or Durham.
Prediction: North Carolina 68, Iowa State 64
No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Wichita State
Oh, the irony.
At the beginning of the season, the Kentucky Wildcats started with aspirations of running the gauntlet during the regular season and winning the national championship.
In fact, the fanbase was so confident in this happening that shirts with "Pursuit of Perfection" were made a bit prematurely, per Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal:
While the Wildcats have fallen well short of that mark, going 25-10 and earning a No. 8 seed in the tourney, Wichita State has put together the season that Kentucky fans were hoping to witness.
The Shockers currently stand at 35-0, becoming the first team to ever do so, and have a coveted No. 1 seed. Last season, WSU made a run through a disastrously rough bracket in which it took down No. 20 Pittsburgh, No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 7 Ohio State before falling to eventual champion Louisville in the Final Four.
Nick Wiggins of the Shockers spoke about the team treating the tournament like business as usual, per Ryan Fagan of Sporting News.
"We’re not the team to back down or shy away from anybody," Wiggins said. "We’ve been through this last year, so this is just another run, another time we’ve got to prove to the world that we’re the team to beat, and I feel we are the team to beat."
While the blue blood in Kentucky has the namesake to draw attention, it's Wichita State that is clearly the more experienced squad. With stars like Cleanthony Early and Fred VanVleet running the offense, the Shockers will do just that en route to a second straight Sweet 16 appearance.
Prediction: Wichita State 74, Kentucky 68
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