Third Round Saturday: Your Commentary
12:15 PM (4) Kentucky vs. (5) West Virginia (CBS)
These two met in last year's East Region final in Syracuse, with the West Virginia defense harassing the Wildcats into a horrific night from deep. This edition of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the basketball better but they're still young with a few of the key spots in the rotation once again manned by freshmen. Brandon Knight was scoreless for more than 39 minutes on Thursday against Princeton before scoring the game-winning basket, and he'll have another tough matchup on Saturday with senior guard Joe Mazzulla.
Mazzulla was outstanding in the Elite 8 win, and with players such as Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones also on the floor the Mountaineers can get back to the Sweet 16. They played very well in the second half against Clemson on Thursday, and if West Virginia can attack the offensive boards they can make the Wildcats pay. Kentucky scores more per game and shoots a higher percentage from the field but WVU's offensive rebounding makes them a more efficient team than their field goal percentage would lead one to believe. Josh Harrellson and Terrence Jones need to keep the Mountaineers off the glass in order to win, and they're more than capable of doing so.
2:45 PM (2) Florida vs. (7) UCLA (CBS)
7:10 PM (1) Pittsburgh vs. (8) Butler (TBS)
7:45 PM (3) BYU vs. (11) Gonzaga (CBS)
After getting past Wofford on Thursday, BYU runs into a team with the size and rebounding ability to take full advantage of the Cougars' lack of interior depth in Gonzaga. The Bulldogs were outstanding on Thursday night, dominating St. John's on the glass and shooting well over 50% from the field. Mark Few's team is a plus-6.5 in rebounding margin on the season, and with the likes of Elias Harris and Robert Sacre up front it should come as no surprise that the Bulldogs can rebound.
Guard Steven Gray does a solid job on the boards as well, averaging nearly four rebounds per game. Jimmer Fredette will get his points, that much is to be expected. But who steps up for BYU tonight? Jackson Emery may be the obvious choice here, but BYU will also need a frontcourt player (Charles Abouo or Noah Hartsock) to step up. Gonzaga is deeper and across the board may be more talented once you get past Fredette. Use of the word "upset" should the Bulldogs win would be a reach at this point.
8:40 PM (4) Wisconsin vs. (5) Kansas State (TNT)
Two of the premier guards in America will be on display in Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor and Kansas State's Jacob Pullen. But who advances may depend on the play of the two frontcourts, especially Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels for the Wildcats. Kelly scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds in Kansas State's win over Utah State on Thursday night but Samuels was quiet due in large part to foul trouble. Kansas State can't afford such a situation today, especially with Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil making up one of the best interior tandems in the Big Ten. Both also have the ability to step out on the perimeter and knock down shots, and with the Badgers doing a very good job of controlling the number of possessions in a game it's imperative that Kansas State remain poised.
5:15 PM (12) Richmond vs. (13) Morehead State (CBS)
At least one double-digit seed will play next weekend thanks to this matchup, and the question for Richmond is how they go about containing Morehead State's Kenneth Faried. The senior from Newark grabbed 17 rebounds in Thursday's win over Louisville, and his presence will put pressure on the Spiders' Darius Garrett and Dan Geriot inside. Thanks to the presence of Faried the Eagles are a plus-9.4 in rebounding margin, an area that Richmond has struggled with this season.
But the Spiders have been very good defensively, keeping their last seven opponents below 40% from the field. And in seniors Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper Richmond has two outstanding players that can make things happen offensively. Harper was quiet on Thursday against Vanderbilt but the Commodores had Rod Odom to match up with him. Morehead State's Demonte Harper, who knocked down the game-winning three pointer, also has the ability to take over a game on the perimeter, which should make for a fun afternoon in Denver.
6:10 PM (2) San Diego State vs. (7) Temple (TNT)
The Aztecs are just 40 minutes away from their first-ever Sweet 16, and with the next round of games in the West being played in Anaheim they'd enjoy quite the advantage fan-wise. But they'll have their work cut out for them tonight, especially if they take the same caliber of perimeter shots they threw up in the first half of Thursday's win over Northern Colorado. The Aztecs shot 32.4% in the half and went into the break leading by just six points (30-24). Steve Fisher's team did a better job of working the ball inside in the second half to eventually pull away but the task will be far tougher in dealing with Temple.
The Owls needed a Juan Fernandez leaner with four tenths of a second remaining to beat Penn State, and they're going to need all available players to chip in on the glass in order to win tonight. Lavoy Allen has fought hard up front since the loss of Micheal Eric and the Owls out-rebounded Penn State by two on Thursday, but the Aztecs are an entirely different squad on the boards than the Nittany Lions. Kwahi Leonard and company have a rebounding margin of nearly plus-7 and limit opponents to 39% shooting from the field. Allen, Fernandez and Ramone Moore will all have to be at their offensive best if the Owls are to challenge, and while they have the ability to do so it could be a tough evening in Tucson.
9:40 PM (3) Connecticut vs. (6) Cincinnati (TBS)