This is where the real fun begins.
So what did we learn from the Round of 64 this year?
We learned that the Selection Committee was right not to give Michigan State a 1-seed.
On the other hand, we learned that the Selection Committee was wrong to seed Wichita State so low. Might we wind up seeing a Jayhawk-v-Shocker rematch in the Tournament with much more at stake this season?
We learned that Bob Huggins' slap ball antics ain't gonna fly in the Tournament. A near three hour long foul fest ended with the Mountaineers getting absolutely worked in the second half by Thomas Walkup and the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin. K-State should seriously consider firing Bruce Weber at the conclusion of this NCAA Tournament and bringing in Lumberjack head coach, Brad Underwood, to replace him. Underwood is a Kansas native and served as an assistant to Huggins and Frank Martin at K-State. All Underwood has done at SFA is own his conference and now holds the only two NCAA Tournament victories in Lumberjack basketball's history.
Speaking of the Big 12. Looks like another whimpering exit for the majority of the best, regular season conference in America. Kansas fans, calm down, a criticism of the conference is not an indictment of the Jayhawk team's quality. Bill Self and his 'Hawks own the conference and are a legit national powerhouse. They have nothing to apologize for and have been the standard bearer for the Big 12 in the Tournament for over a decade now. The rest of the conference couldn't flame out of the Tournament any faster if they were soaked in kerosene. There's no real shame in Texas or Texas Tech going down. They were the lowest seeds, in 6/11 and 8/9 games, which are frequently toss ups. But a year after both Baylor and Iowa State bit it on the first day of the tournament as high seeds, the Big 12's image could ill afford West Virginia, a trendy Final Four pick, and Baylor, who looked outmatched for most of the game against freaking Yale, to do the same thing this season.
Kansas and Oklahoma look strong though, and if Iowa State is on they can beat anyone on any given game day. All three schools appear to be set up nicely in their current positions. The league needs all three to survive the first weekend.
As for Saturday's games, we've got a hell of a slate. Eat it up basketball fans. Hopefully the Jayhawks will be on their way to Louisville by the end of the evening. Rock Chalk!
#11 Wichita State Shockers (26-8) vs #3 Miami Hurricanes (26-7) 11:10 a.m. (CT) on CBS
Former K-State Wildcat firebrand turned Miami transfer, Angel Rodriguez, leads his Hurricane squad into this game as a high seeded underdog against one of the most Tournament experienced teams in the entire field. The Shockers, led by seniors Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, have been on an absolute tear since feeling slighted by the Selection Committee and forced to go in the play in round of the Tournament. After routing Vanderbilt by 20 in the play in, the Shockers ran Arizona right out of the gym in the Round of 64.
#12 Yale Bulldogs (23-6) vs #4 Duke (24-10) 1:40 p.m. (CT) on CBS
This one is for all the sweaters worn over shoulders and tied around necks, the country club memberships, and cotillion glory. Two of the nation's most elite, expensive, and Title IX sexual assault lawsuit impressive institutions square off in this game. Yale, who hasn't been in the Tournament since 1962, jumped all over Baylor. Sophomore Bulldog guard, Makai Mason, went nuts, dropping 31 on the Bears in Thursday's first ever tournament victory for Yale. Meanwhile, Duke had all they could handle for two thirds of their game against the UNC Wilmington Seahawks. The defending champion Devils were down at the half, but rallied to take control, primarily living at the foul line against a pressing team that was grabbing and slapping all game long. No matter who wins this Yale-v-Duke matchup, America loses...
#5 Indiana Hoosiers (26-7) vs #4 Kentucky (27-8) 4:15 p.m. (CT) on CBS
This is an absolute gem of Round of 32 game. Indiana shook off the cobwebs of their unbelievable loss to Michigan in the Big 10 Tournament. They looked fast and explosive against a decent mid-major squad in Chattanooga. Nobody has yet to match the hundo Kansas threw down against Peay, but Indiana came close with its 99. Coach Cal's Kentucky Wildcats gave Stony Brook a rude welcome to their first ever NCAA Tournament game, holding the Seawolves to under 20 points for the first half. Impressively, all five of Kentucky's starters scored in double figures. Meetings between these blue blooded Kentucky and Indiana programs used to be a regular occurrence. Now the schools don't even want to look across the Ohio River at each other. This game marks the first meeting between the Hoosiers and Wildcats since the Sweet Sixteen of the 2012 Tournament.
#12 Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (30-4) vs #4 Iowa State Cyclones (22-11) 5:10 p.m. (CT) on TNT
The Trojans joined Kansas as the only other team, currently, with 30 wins after their insane comeback, double overtime victory over the Purdue Boilermakers. The Trojans were down by 13 with little more than three minutes left in regulation. Star senior guard Josh Hagins refused to let ALR lose though, pouring in 31 points. The Cyclones exercised the demons of their first game loss last season by outpacing the Iona Gaels in a 94-81 score fest. Senior star Georges Niang dropped 28 points in the win. More than making up for his atrocious shooting day against UAB in last year's Round of 64 loss ot the Jerod Haase's Blazers.
#9 Butler Bulldogs (22-10) vs #1 Virginia (27-7) 6:10 p.m. (CT) on TBS
In their Round of 64 game against Texas Tech the Bulldogs kept Big 12 Coach of the Year Tubby Smith's Red Raiders safely at arms' length from about the midway point of the first half on. Since winning that award, Tubby has gone 0-2. Virginia had no problem in dispatching their fellow Virginia state school, Hampton. They nearly doubled them up by 40 points. With many Tournament prognostications giving the Midwest Region to Michigan State, the Cavaliers have got to be feeling good about their chances of reaching Houston now that Sparty went up in flames and the Midwest is falling apart with lower seeds advancing.
#9 UCONN Huskies (25-10) vs #1 Kansas Jayhawks (31-4) 6:45 p.m. (CT) on CBS
UCONN went into the American Conference Tournament playing for the NCAA Tournament lives. Then they were dead in the water with 0.8 seconds left in the second overtime of their first game of that conference tourney before Jalen Adams saved their season with, arguably, the shot of the year. On Thursday the Huskies looked to be on the ropes again as Colorado was pushing them all over the floor. But UCONN went nuts and took complete control of that game. Kansas comes into this game confident. The Jayhawks haven't lost in nearly two months. They have the best record in the field and are coming off a laugher in which they didn't have to play their best ball to still drop 105 points on Austin Peay. Silly to say, but the Jayhawks will have to play better than that against a UCONN team that absolutely refuses to lose right now.
#11 Gonzaga Bulldogs (27-7) vs #3 Utah Utes (27-8) 7:40 p.m. (CT) on TNT
Gonzaga has to be looking at the bottom half of the wreckage left in the Midwest Region and just loving life, and their chances of reaching a second straight Elite Eight. They've earned the right to consider themselves on the same level as a program like Utah, and if they get past them they will play either a suspect, 13 loss Syracuse or 15-seeded Middle Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen. With Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis the Zags can hang with anybody, at least on the offensive end. They dispatched one of the hottest teams in the country, Seton Hall, on Thursday night with relative ease. With all that being said, Utah looked very solid in their win over Fresno State. Four of five Ute starters scored over 16 points. That kind of balance is absolutely sick. This might be one of the best games of the Saturday slate.
#9 Providence Friars (24-10) vs #1 North Carolina Tar Heels (29-6) 8:40 p.m. (CT) on TBS
The nightcapper features, arguably, the toughest second game matchup for any of the four 1-seeds. Carolina got all they could handle from former KU assistant Joe Dooley's Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the first half of their opening game. The Heels clung to a one point lead at the half before their talent and energy finally propelled them to victory. Heels senior forward Brice Johnson was stuffing the stat sheet in that win with a near triple double of 18 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks. Roy will need that kind of effort from Johnson Saturday night. The Friars, while woefully inconsistent, are capable of balling with their star big man Ben Bentil, who was among the leading scorers in the nation. The Friars won a tight, back and forth game against Andy Enfield's USC Trojans. If the Heels come out flat against the Friars, as they did against the Eagles, Providence has the athletic talent to hang with them longer than FGCU did.