Friday's NCAA Tournament Capsules


EAST REGION

NO. 8 GEORGE MASON VS. NO. 9 VILLANOVA

■ WHERE: CLEVELAND

■ WHEN: 11:10 A.M. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ RECORDS: George Mason 26-6, Villanova 21-11

■ LINE: Villanova -1

■ BUZZ: Villanova stumbles into the tournament having lost five in a row and nine of 13. Can the Wildcats regain their footing, or do they just want this season to be over? Villanova has as talented a quartet of guards as there is in the nation, but chemistry appears questionable, and you wonder if the players truly ever accepted their roles. George Mason shoots the 3-pointer well, plays solid defense and works the boards hard. Guard Cam Long is the Patriots' best player, and his size (6 feet 4 inches) could give 'Nova problems. Mason has a short bench -- just six guys average double-digit minutes -- and Villanova has the ability to wear you down defensively. If, that is, the Wildcats still care.

NO. 1 OHIO STATE VS. NO. 16 UT-SAN ANTONIO

■ WHERE: Cleveland

■ WHEN: 1:40 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ RECORDS: Ohio State 32-2, Texas-San Antonio 20-13

■ LINE: No line

■ BUZZ: Texas-San Antonio won a play-in game, so this NCAA trip has been a positive. The Roadrunners aren't going to win this, though it's a chance for talented guard Devin Gibson to gain national attention.

NO. 2 NORTH CAROLINA VS. NO. 15 LONG ISLAND

■ WHERE: Charlotte, N.C.

■ WHEN: 4:15 p.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ RECORDS: North Carolina 26-7, Long Island 27-5

■ LINE: North Carolina -17½

■ BUZZ: Both teams want a fast pace, but can Long Island keep up with North Carolina's elite athletes? Long Island isn't big, which means UNC's frontcourt should dominate. Long Island can hit the 3-pointer, though, and that is the Blackbirds' only chance to stay close. Watch UNC's defense: If Long Island is getting open looks on the perimeter, that bodes ill for the Tar Heels for the rest of the tournament. Long Island coach Jim Ferry knows what he is doing, and his guards have the ability to pester Tar Heels point guard Kendall Marshall.

NO. 6 XAVIER VS. NO. 11 MARQUETTE

■ WHERE: Cleveland

■ WHEN: 4:25 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ RECORDS: Xavier 24-7, Marquette 20-14

■ LINE: Xavier -2

■ BUZZ: Xavier guard Tu Holloway will be the best player on the floor. The question is whether Marquette's "Big Three" of Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder can do enough to overcome Holloway. Marquette's perimeter defense is spotty, but Xavier has not been consistent from 3-point range, hitting just 33.3 percent. Xavier looks to have the advantage in the low post with Kenny Frease and Jamel McLean. Marquette is at its best when it is allowed to play up-tempo basketball. The Golden Eagles aren't all that good from the line, while Xavier is solid from the line.

NO. 7 WASHINGTON VS. NO. 10 GEORGIA

■ WHERE: Charlotte, N.C.

■ WHEN: 6:45 p.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ RECORDS: Washington 23-10, Georgia 21-11

■ LINE: Washington -5½

■ BUZZ: Both have rosters filled with big-time athletes, but Washington wants to run, and Georgia wants to control the tempo. One issue for Georgia is its perimeter shooting; other than Dustin Ware, the Bulldogs don't have a consistent 3-point threat. Washington has four 3-point threats. The Huskies will struggle if they are forced to rely on their half-court offense, which would seem to play into Georgia's hands. The Bulldogs would prefer a pace that keeps the score in the 60s. Washington is going to have trouble controlling Georgia forward Trey Thompkins, but the Bulldogs are going to have trouble controlling Washington guard Isaiah Thomas.

NO. 3 SYRACUSE VS. NO. 14 INDIANA STATE

■ WHERE: Cleveland

■ WHEN: 6:55 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson play-by-play, Len Elmore analyst

■ LINE: Syracuse -11½

■ RECORDS: Syracuse 26-7, Indiana State 20-13

■ BUZZ: Indiana State is not a good offensive team; the Sycamores have one player, guard Dwayne Lathan, who averages in double figures. Indiana State wins with sticky, aggressive defense. But the Sycamores aren't that big, and Orange forward Rick Jackson -- the only player in the Big East who averages a double-double -- should have a big day. Syracuse has had defensive issues this season, but the Orange will have to be extremely lax on defense to lose this one. Indiana State can be sloppy with the ball, and Syracuse should have success in transition.

SOUTHWEST REGION

NO. 2 NOTRE DAME VS. NO. 15 AKRON

■ WHERE: Chicago

■ WHEN: 10:40 a.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

■ RECORDS: Notre Dame 26-6, Akron 23-12

■ LINE: Notre Dame -13½

■ BUZZ: Don't be fooled by Akron's somewhat-gaudy win total. The Zips were seeded sixth in the Mid-American Conference, which was way down this season. In addition, Akron played just one team that made the NCAA field -- and lost by 35 to Temple. Akron forward Nikola Cvetinovic could have success in the paint, but the Zips are going to be hard-pressed to keep the Fighting Irish's perimeter players in check.

NO. 7 TEXAS A&M VS. NO. 10 FLORIDA STATE

■ WHERE: Chicago

■ WHEN: 1:10 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

■ RECORDS: Texas A&M 24-8, Florida State 21-10

■ LINE: Pick 'em

■ BUZZ: Neither team is that good offensively, but both can play lockdown defense. Florida State allows foes to shoot just 36.4 percent from the floor; Texas A&M's opponents have hit only 41.1 percent. A key is whether Florida State guard Chris Singleton plays; he broke his foot Feb. 12 and hasn't played since, though Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said there was a possibility Singleton could return Friday. He would be the best player on the floor. If he's not there, that honor belongs to Texas A&M swingman Khris Middleton. Regardless, expect a ton of aggressive defense, and it's a safe bet that if one team can score 60, that team is going to win.

NO. 1 KANSAS VS. NO. 16 BOSTON UNIVERSITY

■ WHERE: Tulsa, Okla.

■ WHERE: 3:50 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

■ RECORDS: Kansas 32-2, Boston University 21-13

■ LINE: Kansas -22½

■ BUZZ: Boston University swingman John Holland is one of the nation's best low-major players. He averages 19.2 points, but if he is stymied, this game is going to get ugly. Assuming Kansas is serious and plays even adequate defense, the Jayhawks will roll because their big guys are going to dominate.

NO. 3 PURDUE VS. NO. 14 SAINT PETER'S

■ WHERE: Chicago

■ WHEN: 4:20 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ RECORDS: Purdue 25-7, Saint Peter's 20-13

■ ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

■ LINE: Purdue -14

■ BUZZ: Saint Peter's four key players are seniors, but while the Peacocks are experienced, they shouldn't be able to hang with the Boilermakers. Purdue center JaJuan Johnson should have his way inside. Still, it's important that the Boilermakers not let Saint Peter's dictate the pace. The Peacocks have two four-year starters at guard in Nick Leon and Wesley Jenkins, and they are adept at slowing things down. Saint Peter's is 0-6 when it has allowed at least 70 points this season. Purdue obviously can win if the game is in the 60s, but chances are greater for a Saint Peter's upset if the game is in the 50s.

NO. 8 UNLV VS. NO. 9 ILLINOIS

■ WHERE: Tulsa, Okla.

■ WHEN: 6:20 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TBS (7)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

■ RECORDS: UNLV 24-8, Illinois 19-13

■ LINE: UNLV -1½

■ BUZZ: Illinois has underachieved this season but still has the talent to make some NCAA noise. These teams are extremely closely matched, with the big difference being the Illini are proficient from 3-point range (38.7 percent) and UNLV isn't (33.1). UNLV forces almost 17 turnovers per game, and the Illini need to take care of the ball or the Rebels will blitz them in transition. Illinois senior big men Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale will be going against a UNLV frontcourt that lacks true big men. That should be a big advantage for the Illini. But given how Davis and Tisdale can float through games and come up small, it might not hurt UNLV that much.

NO. 6 GEORGETOWN VS. NO. 11 VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH

■ WHERE: Chicago

■ WHEN: 6:50 p.m. PDT

■ TV: TNT (18)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Spero Dedes play-by-play, Bob Wenzel analyst

■ RECORDS: Georgetown 21-10, VCU 24-11

■ LINE: No line

■ BUZZ: Virginia Commonwealth pulled away late to beat Southern California in one of Wednesday's play-in games, and the Rams' athleticism and 3-point ability is going to make them a tough opponent for Georgetown. The Hoyas expect star guard Chris Wright to play; he suffered a broken bone in his left hand Feb. 23, and the Hoyas were 0-4 without him. Wright and Austin Freeman is as physical a pair of guards as there is in the nation. That duo and fellow starting guard Jason Clark need to hit their shots from the perimeter and from midrange because the Hoyas' frontcourt isn't that productive. VCU also must be hot from the perimeter. The Rams are at their best when they can run; their offense can bog down in the halfcourt.

WEST REGION

NO. 4 TEXAS VS. NO. 13 OAKLAND

■ WHERE: Tulsa, Okla.

■ WHEN: 9:15 a.m. PDT

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

■ RECORDS: Texas 27-7, Oakland 25-9

■ LINE: Texas -9½

■ BUZZ: Oakland is a trendy pick to pull an upset because of good 3-point shooting (37.9 percent) and the presence of senior center Keith Benson (18.0 points per game, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 blocks). But the Golden Grizzlies don't play good defense, which is a dangerous trait against Texas. You have to figure Texas swingman Jordan Hamilton has watched some tape and can't wait to get onto the floor. In addition, Texas has big-time perimeter defenders in Dogus Balbay and J'Covan Brown, and you can expect Longhorns coaches to rotate numerous defenders on Oakland point guard Reggie Hamilton, the Golden Grizzlies' second-leading scorer and main distributor. Texas freshman center Tristan Thompson leads the Big 12 in blocks and has offensive skills, too. A key for Oakland is the play of redshirt freshman guard Travis Bader, a long-range bomber deluxe (45.8 percent from 3-point range, on 201 attempts). If the game is close late, remember that Texas is poor from the line (64.5 percent).

NO. 8 MICHIGAN VS. NO. 9 TENNESSEE

■ WHERE: Charlotte, N.C.

■ WHEN: 9:40 a.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ RECORDS: Michigan 20-13, Tennessee 19-14

■ LINE: Tennessee -1½

■ RECORDS: Michigan 20-13, Tennessee 19-14

■ BUZZ: Hmmm, a first-round NCAA Tournament game with 27 combined losses. I guess that's like a bowl game in which each team is 6-6. Michigan played well down the stretch, while the Volunteers did not. Tennessee can play lockdown defense when the mood strikes, and a big key for the Vols is keeping Wolverines guard Darius Morris under control. If Morris is stymied, Tennessee will be in good shape. The Vols often struggle to score because outside of guard Scotty Hopson, these guys are bricklayers from the perimeter. But Michigan's frontcourt isn't that big, so Tennessee forwards Elias Harris and Brian Williams should have success in the paint. The Vols also should control the boards.

NO. 5 ARIZONA VS. NO. 12 MEMPHIS

■ WHERE: Tulsa, Okla.

■ WHEN: 11:45 a.m.

■ TV: CBS (8)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Marv Albert play-by-play, Steve Kerr analyst

■ RECORDS: Arizona 27-7, Memphis 25-9

■ LINE: Arizona -5½

■ BUZZ: The biggest storyline in this one is that Memphis coach Josh Pastner is a former Arizona player and assistant, and at one time, he was seen as the future Wildcats coach. Instead, he was swept out in the aftermath of the Lute Olson saga. Memphis starts four freshmen, and how the youngsters react to tournament pressure will determine whether this game is close. Memphis is not going to be able to stop Arizona forward Derrick Williams. Memphis needs to be hot from the outside, but the Tigers aren't particularly proficient from beyond the arc, and Arizona opponents have hit just 28.8 percent of their 3-point attempts. Still, Arizona doesn't always bear down on defense, and Memphis' athleticism could pose problems.

NO. 1 DUKE VS. NO. 16 HAMPTON

■ WHERE: Charlotte, N.C.

■ WHEN: 12:10 p.m. PDT

■ TV: truTV (54)

■ ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz play-by-play, Clark Kellogg analyst

■ RECORDS: Duke 30-4, Hampton 24-8

■ LINE: Duke -22½

■ BUZZ: Guards Kwame Morgan and Darrion Pellum have combined to take more than half of Hampton's field-goal attempts, so you can bet Duke's guards will be all over that duo. Hampton's frontcourt isn't going to provide many points, and unless Duke is exceptionally sloppy, it should win comfortably. Hampton does play good defense, though, and has the potential to keep this close for 25 or so minutes -- assuming Pellum and Morgan are hitting shots.

MIKE HUGUENIN/RIVALS.COM

 

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