NCAA Sweet 16: Stanford-Dayton lead, UVA-Michigan St closes - Tucson News Now

NCAA tournament: 'Cinderella' to emerge from Sweet 16

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Joe Harris (12) and the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers defeated Memphis 78-60 to reach the NCAA Sweet 16. (Matt Riley/VirginiaSports.com) Joe Harris (12) and the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers defeated Memphis 78-60 to reach the NCAA Sweet 16. (Matt Riley/VirginiaSports.com)
Jordan McRae (52) drives to the basket against UMass in the Tennessee Volunteers' Second Round game. The Vols won 86-67. (Source: Tennessee Athletics/UTSports.com) Jordan McRae (52) drives to the basket against UMass in the Tennessee Volunteers' Second Round game. The Vols won 86-67. (Source: Tennessee Athletics/UTSports.com)
Dyshawn Pierre and the Dayton Flyers face the Stanford Cardinal in the first game of the Sweet 16 round Thursday. (Source: Erik Schelkun, Elsestar Images/Dayton Athletics) Dyshawn Pierre and the Dayton Flyers face the Stanford Cardinal in the first game of the Sweet 16 round Thursday. (Source: Erik Schelkun, Elsestar Images/Dayton Athletics)
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(RNN) -The quantity has dwindled, but the quality looks enticing going into the second week of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

Three double-digit seeds will try to move on in the Sweet 16 round, and the Battle of the Bluegrass - Kentucky and Louisville - headlines Friday. The nightcap Thursday showcase two No. 1 seeds trying to avoid becoming the second top draw to fall.

Thursday (all times Eastern):

Stanford Cardinal (10) vs. Dayton Flyers (11), 7:15 p.m.

The surprise meeting between the two teams was made possible by the fall of two premier programs - Kansas (2) and Syracuse (3). The Cardinal's most experienced member is their coach, Johnny Dawkins, who led Duke to the 1986 NCAA championship game in his playing days. Stanford will try to utilize its size advantage by preventing the Flyers from making it an up-and-down style of game and lean on its upperclass-heavy lineup, featuring junior Chasson Randle.

Dayton earned its one-point Second Round victory on a last-second shot by Vee Sanford then edged Syracuse by two when a shot by the Orange bounced off the rim in the final second. Coach Archie Miller (brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller) will want to see his team push the tempo to take advantage of its edge in speed over Stanford. Dyshawn Pierre and Devin Oliver are undersized forwards, but they can stretch a defense with their 3-point shooting.

Wisconsin Badgers (2) vs. Baylor Bears (6), 7:47 p.m.

This will be a battle on the glass between two of the better rebounding teams in the country, with the winner there likely the winner on the scoreboard. Bo Ryan's Badgers have a well-earned reputation for controlling the tempo of games to limit the other team's possessions. This team has used that formula and its excellence from behind the arc (38 percent 3-point shooting) to find success to this point.

Baylor has 7'1" Isaiah Austin defending the hoop on defense, and his 3.2 blocks per game average attests to his ability to swat and alter shot attempts. Despite his size, he is not among the top two rebounders on the team, as they have several who are able to secure second chances via the offensive glass. Brady Heslip tries to not give them too many chances to grab a board, as he shoots 47 percent from 3-point distance.

Florida Gators (1) vs. UCLA Bruins (4), 9:45 p.m.

With sound fundamentals and a combination of speed, size, toughness and maturity, the Gators have been one of the toughest teams to score on. Pittsburgh, a good defensive team in its own right, was clearly outmatched in the Round of 32 meeting that ended 61-45. Much of coach Billy Donovan's offense in the tourney has come from Scotty Wilbekin or Casey Prather, but Dorian Finney-Smith can come off the bench and provide a spark as well.

UCLA's talented core gelled in time for the PAC-12 tourney, and it carried the team on to a league championship, knocking out Arizona (1) in the title game. Jordan Adams kept the momentum through two games in the NCAAs, with 40 points combined on 63 percent shooting, and 6'9" point guard Kyle Anderson has done a bit of everything, with averages of 11.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals. However, the matchup with the Gators is a sizable step up in class after dispatching Tulsa (13) and Stephen F. Austin (12).

Arizona Wildcats (1) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (4), 10:17 p.m.

The Cats looked unbeatable until their third-leading scorer, Brandon Ashley, went down with a season-ending injury in early February. It's a credit to their talent and depth they remained a top-5 caliber team without him. Guard Nick Johnson added first-team All-American to his long list of accolades, which includes PAC-12 Player of the Year. Aaron Gordon is a Blake Griffin-like athlete who can swing the momentum of a game with one thunderous dunk.

The Aztecs, like Arizona, are a group known for toughness on the defensive end. Their average of 56.6 points allowed per game is good for second in the nation. A good chunk of San Diego State's offense comes from Xavier Thames, and he will need to be successful getting to the basket and drawing fouls to keep up on the scoreboard. He and Johnson going one-on-one will be the matchup to watch.

Friday:

Michigan Wolverines (2) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (11), 7:15 p.m.

The national runner-up from a year ago is still in the running and could face Louisville next in a rematch of the 2013 title game. This year's squad has a dangerous mixture of shooting and athleticism - first-team All-American Nik Stauskas provides a lot of the former and Caris LeVert the latter.

The Vols would become the second team ever to go from First Four to Final Four with two more victories. Coach Cuonzo Martin has a physical team in the paint that can wear the opponent down. One of them is 6'8, 260-pound Jarnell Stokes, who is continuing an excellent junior campaign with an even more outstanding (20.3 points, 15 rebounds, 56 percent shooting in three games) tournament run.

Iowa State Cyclones (3) vs. Connecticut Huskies (7), 7:27 p.m.

Deandre Kane: That is the guy to watch for the Cyclones after he put on a show against an underrated North Carolina defense in the Third Round. His magnum opus included the game winning shot when he knifed through the Tar Heels to the rim with two seconds left. The Cyclones will be short-handed the remainder of the Dance, with Georges Niang's season over thanks to a broken foot.

Senior Shabazz Napier, named to the All-America first team Wednesday, is one of the few still around from UConn's NCAA Championship run in 2011. He will try to use the victory over No. 2 seed and former Big East rival Villanova (2) as a catapult to the Final Four, much the way previous point guard Kemba Walker used a Big East Tournament title to point the Huskies in the right direction three years ago.

Louisville Cardinals (4) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (8), 9:45 p.m.

Another tournament edition of the Battle of the Bluegrass happened two years ago, as the Wildcats won the Final Four contest on the way to their championship. The Cardinals didn't get a chance for payback during their title run in 2013, but they would be thrilled to dispatch the state rivals on the way to a repeat. Seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock are familiar with the big stage, and they have combined for a 33 points per game average through two Midwest Region matchups.

UK looked like a team filled with talent not ready to realize its potential through most of the season. But against top-seeded Wichita State, they played well enough to handle anyone. Julius Randle has been the team's star through the year, good for a double-double nearly every night out. Reliable scoring from the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, and James Young in addition to the big man's work make this team a powerhouse on offense.

Virginia Cavaliers (1) vs. Michigan State Spartans (4), 9:57 p.m.

Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell were coming off All-ACC years, but it was another player who took over as the team's go-to guy this season: Malcolm Brogdon. The sophomore combo guard gave the team a much-needed scorer who could create his own shot, allowing the team to not go through long stretches without scoring. Coupled with a defense, known as the packline, that allowed the fewest points per game in the country, this team is as balanced as they come.

This incarnation of the Spartans is working to keep an impressive streak alive - no Tom Izzo coached player has gone four years in the program without reaching a Final Four. Adreian Payne and Keith Appling need to win two more games to keep that going. The team fought through a barrage of injuries to multiple players, but they are healthy now and among the statistical best at passing the ball (17.1 assists per game) and shooting it (47 percent as a team).

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • News 13 Poll

  • What double-digit seed has the best chance to make the Final Four?

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    Dayton Flyers (11)
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