After an excellent Saturday of NCAA Tournament action, here’s who to watch on Sunday:
Midwest Region - #2 Louisville Cardinals vs. #7 Michigan Wolverines - Sunday, 9:10 AM PT tip-off on CBS
Louisville: Deng Adel. Michigan has been playing lights out as of late and might be the hottest team in the nation. A key to that has been their shooting. If Louisville needs to go shot for shot to put down the Wolverines, with their defense, they hope it doesn’t come to that, but if they must, Deng Adel is their guy to lean on.
Michigan: Derrick Walton, Jr. About Michigan going off lately, this is the guy that leads the way. The Wolverine point guard is averaging a silly 26 points and nine assists in his last three games. Anything close to that puts Louisville in danger.
South Region - #2 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #10 Wichita State Shockers - Saturday, 11:40 AM PT tip-off on CBS
Kentucky: Malik Monk. If anyone can break through the stifling Shockers defense, it’s this electric Freshman who was born to score. Monk averages just over 20 points per game and the Wildcats will need every bucket they can get against this defense.
Wichita State: Markis McDuffie. This is a team in every sense of the word. Gregg Marshall plays ten guys more than ten minutes a game and it’s a group of guys that do all the little things right. But McDuffie leads the team in scoring and rebounding and he might be the best defender on a team that held Dayton to 31% from the floor on Friday.
Midwest Region - #1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #9 Michigan State Spartans - Saturday, 2:15 PM PT tip-off on CBS
Kansas: Frank Mason III. This is the most important player in the country and, perhaps, the best leader in college basketball. Mason, a National Player of the Year candidate, does it all for the Jayhawks. When he’s on the floor, they can beat anyone.
Michigan State: Miles Bridges. Tom Izzo’s crew sports four Freshman starters but none are more exciting than Bridges. Don’t blink, Bridges is a highlight waiting to happen.
South Region - #1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #8 Arkansas Razorbacks - Saturday, 3:10 PM PT tip-off on TNT
North Carolina: Joel Berry II. Justin Jackson has morphed into one of the best players in the country for this year’s Tar Heels but there’s only one guy that UNC looks quite different without and that’s Berry. He expects to play but he’s recovering from an ankle injury and that’s something to keep an eye on. If Berry is less than his best, or misses time, that opens the door for the Hogs.
Arkansas: Moses Kingsley. The Razorbacks will need Kingsley’s best to get by the 1-seed. Kingsley delivered against Seton Hall on Friday (23 points, 77% from the floor, six rebounds, four blocks) but this is a whole other animal.
Midwest Region - #3 Oregon Ducks vs. #11 Rhode Island Rams - Saturday, 4:10 PM PT tip-off on TBS
Oregon: Jordan Bell. There’s plenty of guys to choose from but Bell will be a constant mismatch against Rhode Island. He is going to look to punish the Rams inside at both ends of the floor.
Rhode Island: E.C. Matthews. The Rams will need beyond their best to pull this upset off and it all starts with the shooting of Matthews. If he’s feeling it, the Ducks are on upset alert.
East Region - #3 Baylor Bears vs. #11 USC Trojans - Saturday, 4:45 PM PT tip-off on CBS
Baylor: Johnathan Motley. In a game that will have a frantic, up and down pace, the Bears may need their best player to take over. Motley averages 17 points a game and nearly 10 rebounds. If Motley takes over, that’s a wrap for the Trojans.
USC: Chimezie Metu. Metu is the only guy that can potentially stop Motley from taking over. Metu is athletic enough, has the size and strength, and can be a menace on the glass. This is a matchup to keep an eye on.
East Region - #2 Duke Blue Devils vs. #7 South Carolina Gamecocks - Saturday, 5:40 PM PT tip-off on TNT
Duke: Jayson Tatum. It would seem that the entire Blue Devils team is something to watch at this point. But, as seen in their first round game, their shooting is hot right now. That’s something the Gamecocks can handle. They allow opponents to shoot only 30% from beyond the arc. So, the scoring might have to come from someone that can create their own shot and drive to the basket. Sounds like a job for one of the best Freshman in the country.
South Carolina: Duane Notice. This is sneakily one of the best defenses in the land. Senior guard, Notice, leads the charge. If the Gamecocks can make Duke earn every basket they get, this becomes a very interesting game, just 90 miles from South Carolina’s campus.
South Region - #3 UCLA Bruins vs. #6 Cincinnati Bearcats - Saturday, 6:40 PM PT tip-off on TBS
UCLA: T.J. Leaf. The Bearcats are going to do their best to try and beat up UCLA on the boards but Leaf is more than capable of holding his own. It would obviously be nice for the Bruins to get the same scoring output from Leaf as they did against Kent State on Friday night (23 points on 8-12 shooting) but the rebounding will be key.
Cincinnati: Troy Caupain. If Cincinnati has any chance at pulling this upset, they’ll need the absolute best from their Senior guard. Not just in terms of scoring, but in terms of ball handling. UCLA is so fast and athletic, the Bearcats need to keep their turnovers in check, or else they’ll watch the Bruins run away to the Sweet Sixteen.