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2016 NCAA Tournament: A Guide to Friday's Best

Three more Pac-12 teams will tip-off on Friday, including tournament 1-seed, Oregon

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you're tired of basketball after yesterday's long 16-game slate, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but, we're doing it all over again today.

And if there's one thing we learned yesterday, it's that seeding doesn't particularly matter in this year's NCAA Tournament.

Last year, a total of five lower seeds won in the first round. That's combining both the Thursday and Friday of last year's tournament.

Yesterday, lower seeds won SEVEN of the 16 matchups with three 9's, two 11's and two 12's all coming away with a victory and advancing to the round of 32.

That sets the stage for today as there are 16 more spots open for the round of 32. What higher seeds should be on high alert for Madness? How many Cinderellas will still be dancing at the end of Friday? We've got you covered.

Game of the Day:

(3) West Virginia vs. (14) Stephen F. Austin -- East Region -- 4:10 pm on CBS

Most would suggest that this is an odd game to highlight. After all it's a 3-seed taking on a 14 and that 3-seed is a team that is coming off an appearance in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game, widely considered the nation's best conference, and a team that gave the Kansas Jayhawks all they could handle in that game. And yes, the West Virginia Mountaineers are quite worthy of that 3-seed. But there's more than meets the seeding eye here. West Virginia is second in the nation in turnovers forced, with their "Press Virginia" defense. Who's number one? Well, that would be Stephen F. Austin. Both teams want to cause havoc for their opposition and if that happens today, anything is possible. SFA is led by their do-it-all guard, Thomas Walkup, who leads the Lumberjacks in scoring, rebounding and assists. He'll be the guy to keep your eye on in this one.

The "We Just Lost One of Our Best Players This Week and That Could Be a Problem" Game:

(4) California vs. (13) Hawaii -- South Region -- 11:00 am on TBS

The California Golden Bears have really put something together in the last month and a half. They're 9-2 in their last 11 games, earned a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and everyone seems to be clicking. But, earlier this week, Cal's leading scorer, Tyrone Wallace, broke his hand in practice. In my South Region preview from Monday, I felt like Cal was a lock for the Sweet 16. Now, I'm not so sure. Hawaii is very active defensively and is going to be looking to make the Golden Bears' day miserable. Cal super-freshman, Jaylen Brown, has really struggled from the floor as of late and, without their leading scorer, if the shots aren't falling today, Cal could be in some serious trouble.

The "5-12, uh oh" Game:

(5) Maryland vs. (12) South Dakota State -- South Region -- 1:30 pm on TBS

5-seeds went 1-2 yesterday, with Purdue and Baylor both succumbing to absolute Madness. Indiana demolished their 12-seed foe in impressive fashion. So one more 5-12 matchup remains. The Maryland Terrapins were a Final Four favorite to start the season and most certainly still have the skill to do so, led by sophomore point guard, Melo Trimble. But Maryland has struggled to stay consistent throughout the season and here they are as a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament. And, as we found out on Thursday, the 12-seeds that these 5's are taking on are no joke. The Jackrabbits of South Dakota State are eager to shock the world and their freshman sixth man, Mike Daum, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, could be the reason why. If it happens, it would be the third time in the last four years that three of the four 12-seeds were able to pull off the first round upset.

The "Selection Committee's Master Plan is Ruined" Game

(6) Texas vs. (11) Northern Iowa -- West Region -- 6:50 pm on TBS

The NCAA Tournament selection committee insists that they don't have matchups in mind when they're setting up the field. Any game that lines up with some extra implications is purely coincidence. Like Kentucky and Indiana meeting in the round of 32 tomorrow, an old-school rivalry that recently came to an end as both schools refuse to play one another. Funny how that works, right? Well, here's another one -- if the better seeds prevail, the Texas Longhorns will be playing their hated foe, the Texas A&M Aggies on Sunday. This used to be a very common game but A&M jumped ship to the SEC, reportedly because the Longhorns got their own network and were the Big 12's cash cow, no pun intended. So, the selection committee is setting everyone up for that.

But, the Northern Iowa Panthers have other ideas. Northern Iowa, who defeated North Carolina earlier this season and most recently beat Wichita State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, is looking to ruin this "coincidence" and they have the tools to do so. The Panthers, led by star guard, Wes Washpun, are 12-1 in their last 13 and haven't allowed more than 69 points in any of them. Shaka Smart's first year at Texas has gone swimmingly. But will it end in the first round of the tournament?


Yesterday was fun. Let's do it again.