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Friday’s NCAA Tournament second-round previews


EAST REGION

AT NASHVILLE, TENN.

•  No. 6 Cincinnati (24-10) vs. No. 11 Texas (20-13), 11:15 a.m. (CBS)

This may be one of those occasions where the Longhorns have won just by being in the tournament. Cincinnati got to the Big East finals behind post man Yancy Gates. Texas’ J’Covan Brown can score on anybody, but this is the first NCAA trip for most of the young Longhorns.

Prediction: Cincinnati 68-64

•  No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 St. Bonaventure, 1:45 p.m. (CBS)

The Bonnies won their way into the field with the Atlantic-10 tournament title, and conference player of the year Andrew Nicholson led the way by averaging 18.2 points and shooting 77 percent for the event. But Florida State was even more impressive in winning its league tournament, taking down Duke and North Carolina to win the ACC.

Prediction: Florida State 81-74

SOUTH REGION

AT GREENSBORO, N.C.

•  No. 2 Duke (27-6) vs. No. 15 Lehigh (26-7), 6:15 p.m. (CBS)

The Blue Devils may not have the look of a national champion, but they should roll in this one. Lehigh likes to run, which plays into Duke’s hands. Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum is the nation’s fifth-leading scorer at 21.7 points. Look for a big game from Duke’s Austin Rivers in his NCAA tourney debut.

Prediction: Duke 88-71

•  No. 7 Notre Dame (22-11) vs. No. 10 Xavier (21-12), 8:45 p.m. (CBS)

The Irish have spread the wealth since the season-ending injury to Tim Abromaitis but aren’t a particularly good shooting team. Xavier’s scoring sources are well known, led by senior guard Tu Holloway (17.0).

Prediction: Xavier 64-61

WEST REGION

AT OMAHA, NEB.

•  No. 7 Florida (23-10) vs. No. 10 Virginia (22-9), 1:10 p.m. (TNT)

Virginia’s Mike Scott, a 6-8 forward, is a terrific talent. The Gators live and die with the three-pointer, and with sharpshooting guards Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal. They’re matched against one of the nation’s top defenses. The Cavaliers rank second nationally in scoring defense (53.7).

Prediction: Florida 73-67

•  No. 2 Missouri (30-4) vs. No. 15 Norfolk State (25-9), 3:40 p.m. (TNT)

Norfolk State is a solid rebounding team. But Missouri has to miss shots for there to be rebounds, and that doesn’t often happen. Norfolk State center Kyle O’Quinn was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the year, averaging 15.9 points.

Prediction: Missouri 85-63

AT COLUMBUS, OHIO

•  No. 8 Memphis (26-8) vs. No. 9 Saint Louis (25-7), 5:50 p.m. (TBS)

Solid matchup between teams that made good cases to have better seeds. Memphis is a freewheeling team led by guard Will Barton (18.1 ppg). St. Louis is patient on offense, shoots it well and doesn’t commit many turnovers. The team that sets the pace wins the game.

Prediction: Memphis 71-69

•  No. 1 Michigan State (27-7) vs. No. 16 Long Island (25-8), 8:20 p.m. (TBS)

Offense vs. defense. The Blackbirds average 81.9 points per game; the Spartans surrender 59.1. There’s a nice matchup between Northeast Conference player of year Julian Boyd and Spartans All-American Draymond Green. Michigan State has too much here to envision the unthinkable upset.

Prediction: Michigan State 75-61

MIDWEST REGION

AT COLUMBUS, OHIO

•  No. 6 San Diego State (26-7) vs. No. 11 North Carolina State (22-11), 11:40 a.m. (truTV)

Interesting situation with the Wolfpack. Coach Mark Gottfried has had success in the tournament — he reached an Elite Eight at Alabama — but none of the Wolfpack players have been in the dance. This San Diego State team isn’t as talented as last year’s club, but the Aztecs tied for first in a solid Mountain West, and their coach, Steve Fisher, knows something about NCAA success.

Prediction: San Diego State 67-62

•  No. 3 Georgetown (23-8) vs. No. 14 Belmont (27-7), 2:10 p.m. (truTV)

The upset alert is sounding … so much that Georgetown should be prepared for the Bruins’ best shot. Belmont won’t be intimidated — it’s the program’s fifth NCAA trip in seven years. And the Hoyas don’t tend to overwhelm teams with their Princeton-style offense. Belmont can shoot the three, but Georgetown can defend it.

Prediction: Georgetown 60-55

AT GREENSBORO, N.C.

•  No. 8 Creighton (28-5) vs. No. 9 Alabama (22-11), 12:40 p.m. (TBS)

One of the nation’s top offenses, in Creighton (80.0 points per game), tests the toughest defense in the SEC. The Tide will have to corral Blue Jays forward Doug McDermott, who averages 23.2 points and is showing up on All-America teams.

Prediction: Creighton 71-70

•  No. 1 North Carolina (29-5) vs. No. 16 Vermont (24-11), 3:10 p.m. (TBS)

The Catamounts have their NCAA victory — over Lamar in the opening round. North Carolina may be without John Henson, who is nursing a wrist injury, but the Tar Heels should cruise in this one.

Prediction: North Carolina 81-64

AT NASHVILLE, TENN.

•  No. 4 Michigan (24-9) vs. No. 13 Ohio (27-7), 6:20 p.m. (TNT)

An excellent matchup looms between Ohio guard D.J. Cooper and Michigan freshman Trey Burke, their teams’ leading scorers. Burke is coming off a terrible game (eight turnovers) in a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament. The Bobcats rank second in the nation in forcing turnovers. If you’re looking for an upset …

Prediction: Ohio 62-60

•  No. 5 Temple (24-7) vs. No. 12 South Florida (23-13), 8:50 p.m. (TNT)

South Florida simply doesn’t score. It topped 60 points for the first time in a 62-54 opening round victory over California. Bulls leading scorer Augustus Gilchrist averages 9.7 points. The Owls have more offensive weapons than South Florida, but the Bulls can ugly up a game as well as any team.

Prediction: South Florida 58-55

AT OMAHA, NEB.

•  No. 7 Saint Mary’s (27-5) vs. No. 10 Purdue (21-12), 6:27 p.m. (truTV)

Purdue senior guard Robbie Hummel intends to make the most of the first NCAA Tournament since his freshman year. Injuries ended his season prematurely the past two years. Saint Mary’s point guard Matthew Dellavedova is a Cousy Award finalist and the West Coast Conference player of the year.

Prediction: Saint Mary’s 78-72

•  No. 2 Kansas (27-6) vs. No. 15 Detroit (22-13), 8:57 p.m. (truTV)

The Titans are tall and athletic with an excellent point guard in Ray McCallum. But Kansas, which was bounced out of the last two tournaments in upset fashion, should be ready. Guard Tyshawn Taylor is a four-year starter. He and Thomas Robinson give Kansas one of the nation’s best inside-outside games.

Prediction: Kansas 73-61

| Blair Kerkhoff, bkerkhoff@kcstar.com

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