Second Round NCAA Tournament Game Intrigue Rankings

I just posted my ranking/analysis of first round games so now its time to immediately turn the corner and start looking ahead to Saturday and Sunday’s 2nd round games. Here is my (mostly objective/slightly subjective) ranking of those games from most anticipated to least anticipated. The main factors considered were: the possibility of an upset, likelihood of a close game, and the existence of other story lines that enhance the appeal of a particular game. I will create a second list and post it on the blog which ranks each of these games after they are played.

Ranking the NCAA Second Round Games (Pregame)
1(4) Providence vs. (12) Richmond (Sat 6:10)- TNT (245)– myself and Vegas agree that Richmond is the one true early round Cinderella that has the best chance of getting to the Sweet 16.
2(7) Murray State vs. (15) St. Peter’s (Sat 7:45)- CBS (5)- the Racers have been to the round of 32 six different times in their illustrious basketball history but have not advanced to a single Sweet 16. Well, for the first time ever, Murray will be heavily favored to do just that when they face the 15th seeded Peacocks on Saturday night.
3(4) Arkansas vs. (12) New Mexico State (Sat 8:40)- TNT (245)- the most intriguing aspect of the second round of the tournament to me is seeing which of mid-majors who pulled off first round upsets can become Cinderellas and make it to the Sweet 16. That is why the only three Cinderella candidates in this tournament (NMSU, St. Peter’s, and Richmond) are featured in the first three games on this list.
4(2) Duke vs. (7) Michigan State (Sun 5:15)- CBS (5)- see explanation above as to why I must put the “Cinderella games” at the top of the list. For the rest of the country, the Izzo/Krzyzewski matchup in Coach K’s final season will serve as the pinnacle of the second round.
5(1) Gonzaga vs. (9) Memphis (Sat 9:40)- TBS (247)– Zaga is heavily favored here, but given how bad they looked against Georgia State there is plenty of intrigue in seeing how they look against a very talented Memphis team on Saturday night.
6(2) Villanova vs. (7) Ohio State (Sun 2:40)- CBS (5)– two college basketball titans battle in a matchup where the 7 seed has a legitimate chance of knocking off the top remaining # 2.
7(4) UCLA vs. Saint Mary’s (Sat 7:10)- TBS (247)- should be a great, albeit slow, game between two evenly matched squads that like to grind out long possessions.
8(1) Baylor vs. (8) North Carolina (Sat 12:10)- CBS (5)– it seems like one # 1 seed fails to make it out of the first weekend every year, and odds are this is the upset of a 1 that is most likely to happen this weekend.
9(3) Texas Tech vs. (11) Notre Dame (Sat 7:10)- TBS (247)– interesting matchup between two teams with contrasting styles
10(3) Texas vs. (6) Purdue (Sun 8:40)- TNT (245)- this is one of my big second round upsets as I have the Longhorns knocking off the Boilermakers. We’ll see if it happens.
11(3) Wisconsin vs. (11) Iowa State (Sun 6:10)– TNT (245)- A 3 vs. 11 matchup where the double-digit seed has a legitimate shot at advancing.
12(1) Arizona vs. (9) TCU (Sat 9:40)- TBS (247)– Not sure if the Horned Frogs can pull off this upset or not, but they played well enough on Friday night to make me wonder about it.
13(2) Auburn vs. (10) Miami-FL (Sun 7:45)- TruTV (246)– good battle between two teams with epic guard play
14(3) Tennessee vs. (11) Michigan (Sat 5:15)- CBS (5)- the Wolverines are probably better than the 11 seed they received, but the problem is the Vols are definitely better than the three seed they received. I think Michigan hangs around for a while in this one, but I think Tennessee proves too tough down the stretch.
15(4) Illinois vs. (5) Houston (Sun 12:10)- CBS (5)- should be a good game but I don’t really care about either team and don’t really think either team has a shot at making it past the Sweet 16.
16(1) Kansas vs. (9) Creighton (Sat 2:40)- CBS (5)- the biggest spread of the weekend seems like the one game that is most likely to be a blowout. I think the Bluejays exerted too much physical and emotional energy in their come from behind overtime win over San Diego State to hang around in this one. I hope I am wrong though.

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