Nothing can compare to the first two full days of the NCAA Tournament, but Saturday offers an enticing slate of games with teams hoping to play in the Sweet 16.
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Thursday’s full slate of NCAA Tournament games did not disappoint, with two seed Arizona and four seed Virginia falling to Princeton and Furman, respectively.
Nothing can compare to the first two full days of the NCAA Tournament, but Saturday offers an enticing slate of games with teams vying for a chance to play in the Sweeet 16 next weekend.
Below are three marquee games slated for Saturday – for more previews and predictions check out the Locked on College Basketball podcast!
1) Houston Cougars vs. 9) Auburn Tigers (7:10 PM ET on TBS)
The big question here is the health of All-American point guard Marcus Sasser. Sasser suffered a groin injury in the AAC semifinal against Cincinnati, and was held out of Houston’s loss to Memphis in the conference championship.
He started against Northern Kentucky in the first round but exited after reaggravating the injury – and his status right now is questionable for Saturday’s evening game against Auburn.
The Tigers looked excellent in their win over Iowa, and they will play Houston in Birmingham – a sizable home court advantage for Bruce Pearl’s team. Could a home crowd, plus the likely absence of Houston’s best player, be enough for Auburn to advance to the Sweet 16?
1) Kansas Jayhawks vs. 8) Arkansas Razorbacks (5:15 PM ET on CBS)
Kansas played Howard – who made their first NCAA Tournament since 1992 – and won handily, even without coach Bill Self on the sideline.
Meanwhile the Razorbacks struggled but ultimately prevailed against Illinois, setting up a fun second round matchup between two teams with sky-high expectations coming into the season.
While Kansas has remained a title threat all year long, the Hogs dealt with a season-ending injury to Trevon Brazile and a long absence from star freshman Nick Smith – leading to an ultimately disappointing regular season.
Eric Musselman’s team needs to find a way to incorporate Smith and his elite playmaking into the offense, otherwise the Jayhawks will advance to the Sweet 16 with an excellent chance at repeating as national champions.
4) Tennessee Volunteers vs. 5) Duke Blue Devils (2:40 PM ET on CBS)
Upsets are always fun, but you won’t find too much complaining about a matchup between Duke and Tennessee with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16.
Tennessee is among the nation’s most elite defensive teams, but they struggle to shoot and are without star point guard Zakai Zeigler.
It’s their lack of frontcourt length that projects to be a bigger issue against Jon Scheyer’s Duke team, however, with freshmen Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively playing well right now.
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