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Previewing Round 2, Day 2 of March Madness

Johnie Freatman |
March 18, 2011 | 3:13 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Arizona struggled with USC earlier this season. Can they get past Memphis on Friday? (Shotgun Spratling)
Arizona struggled with USC earlier this season. Can they get past Memphis on Friday? (Shotgun Spratling)
After a riveting first day of Round 2 of NCAA Tournament action that saw upsets, buzzer beaters, comebacks and spectacular individual performances, basketball fans can expect more of the same on Friday as the always-wacky March Madness continues.

Here’s a preview:

Game most likely to produce a big upset: Arizona-Memphis.

Arizona needs to avoid looking ahead to a potential second-round showdown with Texas because this Memphis team is very dangerous. Though young, they are balanced and have excellent guard play behind Will Barton and Joe Jackson. Coach Josh Pastner is sure to have them ready to play and he would love nothing more than to knock off his former team. In order for Arizona to stave off an upset, they will need their guards to step up and take some of the pressure off Pac-10 Player of the Year Derrick Williams.

Game most likely to end in a buzzer beater: Georgia-Washington.

Though many pundits expect Washington to continue its dominant play of late, this is an intriguing game. Georgia is an athletic squad that can match Washington’s up-tempo pace; they have a great 1-2 punch in Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie. The 6-foot-10 Thompkins may present a matchup problem for the guard-heavy Huskies. However, Washington counters with a very deep squad led by Isaiah Thomas, who is no stranger to buzzer-beating heroics.

Player most likely to save his coach’s job: Scotty Hopson.

The Tennessee program has undoubtedly been disrupted by their athletic director’s refusal to say whether or not embattled coach Bruce Pearl will return next season. Even Charlie Sheen can guess what Pearl needs to accomplish in this tournament in order to keep his job: “winning.” The Volunteers may have to lean on Hopson to accomplish this in their game against Michigan, a matchup between very evenly matched teams. Hopson has delivered this year, averaging 17 points a game and developing a reputation as a clutch player.

Player most likely to become a folk hero: Keith Benson.

Every year, the tournament produces one of these, whether it's Ali Farokhmanesh, Kevin Pittsnogle or many others. Though Benson’s Oakland team is playing against a formidable Texas squad, the 6-foot-11 senior should be able to exploit Texas’s undersized frontcourt in his last chance at Tourney glory. His 18 points and 10 rebounds a game are a big part of Oakland’s success. If the Grizzlies are going to pull off the improbable, they’ll need a monster game from Benson.

-- Follow along with all of Neon Tommy's NCAA Tournament Coverage.

Tournament Bracket


To reach Johnie Freatman, click here. Follow him on Twitter, @scfreats.



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