March Madness 2017: Sunday’s scheduleBy Matt Verderame
Only one more day remains before we have the complete picture on the Sweet 16 in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It has been a fairly smooth ride to this point, with the only major upsets being the No. 11 Xavier Musketeers advancing easily past the Maryland Terrapins and Florida State Seminoles, and the No. 8 seed Wisconsin Badgers knocking off the top-overall seeded Villanova Wildcats.
Going into Sunday’s action, we have eight more games and 16 teams fighting it out. Here’s a little bit on each game to whet your appetite for what should be a fantastic slate.
No. 7 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 2 Louisville Cardinals
Louisville has been picked by many of the experts to get into the Final Four, but this is a real test early on. Michigan is one o the hottest teams in the country, having won the Big Ten Tournament before scoring over 90 points in an impressive win against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. If the Wolverines continue to shoot well, Louisville will need to get up and down the court.
No. 10 Wichita State Shockers vs. No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats
This is another game where the second seed has to be legitimately worried. Gregg Marshall is one of the best coaches in the country, and has seen Kentucky in the tournament before. The Wildcats should win based on talent, but this could be a tough contest should the Shockers hit consistently from the outside.
No. 9 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks
Frankly, Kansas should win this going away. The Jayhawks are one of the most talented teams in the land with Josh Jackson and Frank Mason leading the way. Still, Tom Izzo is a brilliant coach, and the Spartans have run white hot and icy cold all year.
No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels
Another game that should go to the favorite. Arkansas had a tough time getting past the Seton Hall Pirates, and North Carolina is no Seton Hall. The Tar Heels have to be considered perhaps the best team left standing. This would be a huge upset.
No. 11 Rhode Island Rams vs. No. 3 Oregon Ducks
Despite losing Chris Boucher to injury before the tourney, the Ducks looked great against the Iona Gaels in the first round. That said, Rhode Island is a very hot team that has a real chance of advancing. The Rams won the Atlantic 10 Tournament before crushing the Creighton Blue Jays on Friday.
No. 11 USC Trojans vs. No. 3 Baylor Bears
The last thing Baylor wants to do in this game is get a big lead. USC trailed big in both of its contests so far, only to erase the deficits and win both times. USC has the ability to shoot from outside, but Baylor is the superior team in both talent and depth.
No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. No. 2 Duke Blue Devils
South Carolina has real talent, but the Blue Devils are oozing it all over creation. Duke can match up with anybody in the country, but the Gamecocks won’t be easy. This is a very athletic team that while outmatched on paper, won’t be an easy out.
No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 3 UCLA Bruins
UCLA is going to be tough for any team to stop. T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball lead an athletic, offensive-minded team into this game to take on Cincinnati, one of the better defensive teams around. If Mick Cronin wants to turn this tournament on its ear, this would be the upset to make it happen.