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Preview: NCAA Tournament Round of 32, Day 2

Johnie Freatman |
March 18, 2012 | 10:16 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

 

Robinson hopes to keep his Jayhawks from an early tournament exit. (Wikimedia Commons)
Robinson hopes to keep his Jayhawks from an early tournament exit. (Wikimedia Commons)
After “chalk” reigned Saturday and every game was won by the higher-seeded team, will we see a return to Friday’s unpredictable madness? On Sunday, eight more Sweet 16 tickets will be punched. Here’s a preview of what to expect:

Game most likely to produce a big upset: North Carolina State-Georgetown

The Wolfpack are peaking at the right time. After being on the wrong side of the bubble, NC State won four of their last five on the way to salvaging an NCAA berth. They followed it up with a convincing upset of San Diego State and figure to match up well against Georgetown. While the Hoyas have good size inside, NC State has a lot of length and athleticism and will push the pace. While Georgetown has a talented, albeit relatively young, team, they have struggled of late to avoid early-round upsets. If Wolfpack star C.J. Leslie has a big game, look for his squad to move on to Week 2 and send the Hoyas packing prematurely yet again.

Player Most Likely to have a huge game: Thomas Robinson- Kansas

The feel-good story of this college basketball season, Robinson has overcome unfathomable tragedy to lead his Jayhawks back to the precipice of a deep NCAA Tourney run. The national player of the year candidate, who averages nearly 18 points and 12 rebounds a game, should have his day against a Purdue team that lacks a true frontcourt player. Though Robbie Hummel, Purdue’s tallest starter, has been spectacular this season, he’s very brittle after two ACL surgeries and previous back problems. It’s difficult to see him being able to match the physicality of Robinson, who’s determined to end Kansas’s string of premature exits from the Tourney.

Most Intriguing Individual Matchup: Harrison Barnes (UNC) vs. Doug McDermott (Creighton)

In a twist of fate, the classmates from Ames, Iowa will face off against one another in what promises to be an exciting, high-scoring matchup. Though Barnes got all the attention in high school as the top recruit in the nation, McDermott has put together an All-American caliber season, averaging over 23 points and eight rebounds for the Bluejays, who are coached by McDermott’s father, Greg. Barnes has a better supporting cast and hasn’t had to do as much as his counterpart but is leading the Tar Heels with 17.4 points per game.

Game Most Likely to be a Blowout: Florida-Norfolk State

Norfolk State provided an upset for the ages with their defeat of Missouri. However, it would be a surprise if lightning strikes twice. Not only is there the potential for an emotional letdown by the Spartans, they’re playing a Florida team that obliterated Virginia by 26 points in the first round. These Gators are composed of many of the same players who took them to the Elite Eight last year; they also added freshman Bradley Beal, who leads the team in rebounds and is second in points. Coach Billy Donovan is tourney-tested with two national championships and is unlikely to let his team overlook Norfolk State. It’s been a nice run for Cinderella but “midnight” is imminent.

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