Everything You Need to Know About March Madness Day Three

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 18, 2017

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 16: James Bolden #3 and Jevon Carter #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers react from the bench against the Bucknell Bison  during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 16, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The last time the first round of the men's NCAA tournament was as devoid of upsets as the one we just witnessed was in 2007 when all seeds first through fifth won their first games. We did at least get one No. 12 seed knocking off a No. 5 seed this yearThanks, Middle Tennessee!but every team on the top four seed lines survived to the second round.

(It's purely a coincidence that the last time a team repeated as national champions was also in 2007, right?)

As fun as Cinderella stories can be, though, the calm first round means all of the best teams are still alive, which should lead to an incredible rest of the tournament. And that begins with Saturday's half of the second-round games.

Most Likely Upsets

No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 West Virginia: It might be hard to sell a No. 5 over a No. 4 as a Cinderella story, but given seven of the eight No. 4 and No. 5 seeds won on Thursday, options for Saturday upsets are limited. At least this is an upset in the eyes of Vegas, as OddsShark has West Virginia listed as a three-point favorite.

But this is the type of game the Fighting Irish could win by a landslide.

Because of its smothering full-court pressure, WVU has become synonymous with defense. "Press Virginia" leads the nation in defensive turnover percentage and has recorded at least 10 steals in 16 of its 35 games. However, as has been the case for more than a decade under head coach Mike Brey, Notre Dame doesn't turn the ball over. This year, the Irish rank No. 1 in the nation at avoiding turnovers, averaging 9.4 per game. And since the start of the 2014-15 season, when the Mountaineers force 12 or fewer turnovers, they are 2-10.

West Virginia will keep things interesting with second-chance points, but without many fast-break opportunities, a half-court game should favor the Fighting Irish.

No. 12 Middle Tennessee vs. No. 4 Butler: In case a No. 5 over a No. 4 isn't a big enough upset for you, perhaps a No. 12 over a No. 4 will suit your fancy?

Stacy Revere/Getty

Butler is a strong team. The Bulldogs swept No. 1 Villanova in the process of going 14-5 against teams that made the NCAA tournament. They are equal parts smart and physical on defense and would be a real threat to take down North Carolina if they were to meet in the Sweet 16.

But Middle Tennessee isn't your run-of-the-mill No. 12 seed, as Minnesota found out the hard way. The Blue Raiders don't beat themselves with turnovers or bad shots and you can forget about beating them with offensive rebounds. Giddy Potts and Reggie Upshaw are lethal, veteran scorers, and Arkansas transfer Jacorey Williams gives them a talented and physical go-to guy in the paint.

According to OddsShark, MTSU is just a four-point underdog. As long as Butler's Avery Woodson doesn't get as hot from three-point range as he was in the first round against Winthrop (6-of-10), this game is ripe for an upset.

Biggest Stars in Action

Rather than reiterating the same three big stars from Thursday, here are three other sensations to keep an eye on throughout the day, starting with the second coming of Charles Barkley.

Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: Colson is only 6'5", but the junior power forward averaged 17.5 points and 10.1 rebounds this season. He has been the best player in each of Notre Dame's last four games, as well as eight of its last 11. And his presence on the glass is going to be critical against a West Virginia team that thrives on offensive rebounds.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: The "Ethan Happ for National Player of the Year" bandwagon got a flat tire late in the season when the big man struggled and the Badgers lost five out of six games. But Happ is back, and so is Wisconsin.

The redshirt sophomore is averaging 12.6 points and 10.4 rebounds over his last five games and remains the most important player on both ends of the floor for the Badgersas was the case during their run to the Sweet 16 last year. When Happ is defending at a high level and keeping opposing centers off the glass, Wisconsin looks a lot like the title contender we were promised in the preseason.

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Lauri Markkanen, Arizona: Markkanen isn't an average big man. He has put up just 4.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks over his last four games. With 20.0 points per game during that stretch, though, he might be the most irreplaceable player in the country. The 7'0" Finnish phenom is one of the best three-point shooters in the tournament field, and Arizona's offense is just about unstoppable when he's feeling it.

Game Most Likely to Produce a Buzzer-Beater

No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 5 Iowa State: This one is a coin flip. Literally. I flipped a coin to decide who should advance from this game in (what's left of) my bracket. There hasn't been an overtime game yet in the NCAA tournament, but Purdue vs. Iowa State is a strong candidate to require at least five extra minutes.

And if it does come down to the wire, these are the two best three-point shooting teams playing Saturday. Whether it's Purdue (40.7 percent) or Iowa State (40.3 percent) trying to drain a last-second dagger, you have to like its chances. The Boilermakers have five players shooting at least 40.0 percent from downtown, and the Cyclones aren't far behind with four regulars shooting at least 39.0 percent.

Let's even go one step further and project that Naz Mitrou-Long is the one who attempts said buzzer-beater. Iowa State's fifth-year senior is 46-of-101 from three-point range since the beginning of February, but he's also a 63.7 percent shooter from inside the arc for the season.

1 Player You Should Be Rooting For: Canyon Barry, Florida 

Like father, like son, like...granny? Florida Gators guard Canyon Barry's free-throw form is a throwback tribute to how his Hall-of-Fame father, Rick, used to shoot them—underhand. The senior transfer—who spent his first three years at College of Charleston—has been one of the viral sensations of the tournament thus far for his old-school charity-stripe shots.

Canyon is Rick's fifth son to play college basketball (Jon, Brent and Drew went on to play in the NBA and Scooter was on Kansas' 1988 championship team), but he's the only one to consistently adopt his father's shot. It worked for dad, as he ranks seventh in NBA history with an 89.3-percent career mark. And it's working for Canyon as well. He's nearly matched Rick with an 87.6-percent clip this season and is the Gators' second-leading scorer at 11.9 points per game. 

Prop Bet of the Day: Mentions of Other Countries in Arizona vs. Saint Mary's

Every once in a while, a highly touted player decides to forgo a year of amateur hoops by playing overseas. And every time this happens, college basketball nation loses its mind, claiming it's going to be an epidemic that results in more and more phenoms taking their talents across an ocean.

But no one ever mentions the fact that dozens of foreign players come to the U.S. every year for the chance to compete at the collegiate level. Nowhere is that more evident than in Arizona vs. Saint Mary's.

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Arizona has a pair of outstanding 7-footers from Europe in Lauri Markkanen (Finland) and Dusan Ristic (Serbia). Meanwhile, Saint Mary's is practically an Australian all-star team. Jock Landale, Emmett Naar, Dane Pineau, Tanner Krebs, Kyle Clark and Jordan Hunter all hail from the Land Down Under and have accounted for 56.5 percent of the points the Gaels have scored this season.

Factor in the obligatory mention of Terrance Fergusona 2016 McDonald's All-American who signed at Arizona before opting to go pro in Australia insteadand the over/under for times we hear "Australia," "Finland" or "Serbia" is set at 13.5.

Day Three's Games

No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 5 Notre Dame, 12:10 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 8 Wisconsin, 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 8 Northwestern, 5:15 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 11 Xavier, 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT

No. 4 Butler vs. No. 12 Middle Tennessee, 7:10 p.m. ET on TBS

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 7 Saint Mary's, 7:45 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 4 Florida vs. No. 5 Virginia, 8:40 p.m. ET on TNT

No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 5 Iowa State, 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS

Live streams for all games available at NCAA.com

Stats courtesy of WarrenNolan.comKenPom.com and Sports-Reference.com.

Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter: @kerrancejames.


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