If Friday is anything like Thursday was, then we are all in for a treat.
Three one seeds, including Arizona, all start their quests for a National Championship on Friday. Here are some games that Wildcat fans should pay a little extra attention:
Arizona vs. Weber St. (11:10 AM MST, TNT)
The Battle of Wildcats is the first game at Viejas Arena in San Diego for the day, so no need to worry about any sort of delay for the tip. Nick Johnson is coming off a week where he's getting a lot more national recognition, and has that chance to showcase that talent for everyone. Weber State is a guard-oriented team, so T.J. McConnell and Johnson will have to guard well on the perimeter in this one. This also means that huge offensive games from Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all of great possibility thanks to Arizona's size and strength compared to that of the Wildcats from Utah.
Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma St. (1:40 PM MST, TNT)
The winner of this game presumably takes on Arizona Sunday. Oklahoma State has been rolling after Marcus Smart returned from his suspension. But I'm not even sure that Smart is the best player on that team. I think Markel Brown is every bit as good, and Phil Forte may be the difference out on the perimeter against Gonzaga's David Stockton. Kevin Pangos and his 41.1 % from three could also be problematic for the Cowboys.
New Mexico vs. Stanford (10:40 AM MST, TBS)
While most of this game will be happening during the Arizona game, I think it's definitely worth keeping an eye on it. The Lobos have two big guys in the blocks in Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow. Those two guys have been the biggest reason for UNM's success this year. It seems like Stanford fans didn't even want the Cardinal to make the tourney so there would be a reason to get rid of Johnny Dawkins. Will a one-and-done appearance in the tourney seal his fate as well?
UCLA vs. Tulsa (6:57 PM MST, TruTV)
The most interesting part about Tulsa is that their head coach is former Kansas star Danny Manning. There's a potential upset on the otherside of this pod with Stephen F. Austin taking on VCU. But really the thing to keep an eye on here is how UCLA's fans travel to San Diego compared to Arizona's.
Most intriguing: Baylor vs. Nebraska (9:40 AM MST, TruTV)
This is my most intriguing game because I still can't get over that this can happen in the first round. When I first saw it, I was wondering why the selection committee had a Big 12 conference game right away, until I realized the Huskers aren't there anymore. Nebraska just intrigues me all around, from head coach Tim Miles, to the way they've built a basketball program and have moved into a new arena. Baylor is always a crapshoot in the tourney, so they'll either win by 30, or lose on a buzzer beater.
And what will Coach Miles tweet at halftime?!
Open practice. Done. Now it's on!! pic.twitter.com/HWfKOfnzoS— Tim Miles (@CoachMiles) March 20, 2014
Friday's Game Schedule
|MidWest||Mercer Bears (14) vs. Duke Blue Devils(3)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||12:15p||CBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|West||Nebraska Cornhuskers (11) vs. Baylor Bears (6)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||12:40p||truTV||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Stanford Cardinal (10) vs. New Mexico Lobos (7)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||1:40p||TBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|West||Weber State Wildcats (16) vs. Arizona Wildcats (1)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||2:10p||TNT||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|MidWest||Tennessee Volunteers (11) vs. Massachusetts Minutemen (6)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||2:45p||CBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|West||Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (14) vs. Creighton Bluejays (3)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||3:10p||truTV||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Eastern Kentucky Colonels (15) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (2)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||4:10p||TBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|West||Oklahoma State Cowboys (9) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (8)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||4:40p||TNT||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|East||George Washington Colonials (9) vs. Memphis Tigers (8)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||6:55p||TBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|MidWest||Cal Poly Mustangs (16) vs. Wichita State Shockers (1)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||7:10p||CBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|East||Providence Friars (11) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (6)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||7:20p||TNT||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (12) vs. Virginia Commonwealth Rams (5)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||7:27p||truTV||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|East||Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (16) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (1)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||9:25p||TBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|MidWest||Kansas State Wildcats (9) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (8)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||9:40p||CBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|East||NC Central Eagles (14) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (3)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||9:50p||TNT||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Tulsa Golden Hurricane (13) vs. UCLA Bruins (4)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||9:57p||truTV||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|