NCAA Tournament

Previews for Friday’s NCAA Tournament games

Updated: 2013-03-22T01:35:06Z

MIDWEST REGION

AT PHILADELPHIA

•  No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke, 11:15 a.m. (CBS)

Albany ran the table in the America East Tournament as the fourth seed, and as a reward gets a Duke team motivated to not lose as a No. 2 seed for the second straight year. The Great Danes lost to Ohio State by 22 in their only game this season against a ranked team.

•  Pick: Duke, 82-61

•  No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton, 1:45 p.m. (CBS)

It’s a familiar path for the Blue Jays, who after winning their first game last season drew North Carolina in the second game. A victory here likely pits Creighton against Duke. Doug McDermott is the nation’s second-leading scorer at 23.1, and Creighton leads the nation in field-goal percentage at 50.8

•  Pick: Creighton, 72-68

WEST REGION

AT SPRINT CENTER

•  No. 12 Mississippi vs. No. 5 Wisconsin, 11:40 a.m. (truTV)

All eyes will be on Mississippi’s Marshall Henderson — for more than his scoring ability. He’s the most animated player in college basketball. Wisconsin is anything but, and the Badgers play ball control, play patiently and look for the high-percentage shot.

•  Pick: Wisconsin, 67-64

•  No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 4 Kansas State, 2:10 p.m. (truTV)

It’s been a whirlwind for the Explorers, who defeated Boise State on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, hopped on a charter and got to Kansas City early Thursday morning. But the team said it would be ready to take on a Wildcats team that is similarly guard-based. La Salle’s top challenge is to slow All-Big 12 guard Rodney McGruder.

•  Pick: Kansas State, 79-72

•  AT DAYTON, OHIO

•  No. 15 Iona vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 6:15 p.m. (CBS)

Iona players are confident. “To me, it’s not an upset. It’s a game we should win,” guard Sean Armand said. Hey, last year two No. 15 seeds — Lehigh (over Duke) and Norfolk State (over Missouri) — won. The Buckeyes were a factor all season in the Big Ten and finished tied for second. Deshaun Thomas leads the Big Ten in scoring at 20 points per game.

•  Pick: Ohio State, 81-67

•  No. 10 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame, 8:45 p.m. (CBS)

The Cyclones lead the nation in three-pointers made per game, a shade fewer than 10, and they make them from every position. The team’s top gun, Tyrus McGee, comes off the bench. Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley is one of the game’s top rebounders.

•  Pick: Iowa State, 76-72

SOUTH REGIONAL

AT SPRINT CENTER

•  No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Villanova, 6:20 p.m. (TNT)

The teams are meeting in an NCAA Tournament game for the sixth time, the first since 2009. The Wildcats are back in the NCAAs after missing last year’s field and were good enough to knock off each of the three teams that tied for the Big East title: Louisville, Georgetown and Marquette. The Tar Heels’ season changed after coach Roy Williams went with a smaller lineup, starting 6-5 P.J. Hairston at forward. North Carolina lost only to Duke and Miami after that.

•  Pick: North Carolina, 74-67

•  No. 16 Western Kentucky vs. No. 1 Kansas, 8:50 p.m. (TNT)

Perry Ellis’ improvement was the Jayhawks’ big story in the Big 12 tournament when he averaged 14.3 points, but Kevin Young probably remains the starter for his defense and energy. The Hilltoppers swept through the Sun Belt tournament and seven players have NCAA Tournament experience. Leading scorer T.J. Price has averaged 16 points in two NCAA games.

•  Pick: Kansas, 80-66

AT AUSTIN, TEXAS

•  No. 14 Northwestern State vs. No. 3 Florida, 6:27 p.m. (truTV)

This one should be fun. Northwestern State leads the nation in scoring at 81 points per game and the Gators can play that way, shooting 48 percent on all shots and 38 percent on threes. The Demons average about 63 field-goal attempts per game.

•  Pick: Florida, 93-79

•  No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA, 8:57 p.m. (truTV)

The teams enter this game on different paths. The Gophers have lost three straight and 11 of 16. The Bruins are 7-2 in their last nine, and coach Ben Howland’s teams have historically played well as a better seed in the NCAAs. Larry Drew III has come on strong for UCLA and has taken some of the scoring pressure off Shabazz Muhammad.

•  Pick: UCLA, 55-46

AT PHILADELPHIA

•  No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown, 5:50 p.m. (5:15 p.m.)

Atlantic Sun Tournament champ Florida Gulf Coast is in its sixth season of Division I athletics and in just its second season of tournament eligibility. The Eagles beat Florida State and Alabama this season. Not exactly calling for the upset here, but the Hoyas need to take this one seriously.

Pick: Georgetown, 68-60

•  No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 San Diego State, 8:20, (TBS)

Who guards Jamaal Franklin for the Sooners? Franklin does it all, averaging 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals. Romero Osby and Steven Pledger are two of the top threats for Oklahoma, which can be an excellent midrange shooting team.

•  Pick: San Diego State, 69-66

EAST REGIONAL

AT DAYTON, OHIO

•  No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 North Carolina State, 12: 40 p.m. (TBS)

The Owls are in the tournament for the sixth straight season. In four of the last five they lost the first game, including last year as a No. 5 to No. 12 South Florida. Temple got good news when top rebounder Anthony Lee was cleared to play after suffering a concussion in the Atlantic-10 tournament.

•  Pick: N.C. State, 75-68

•  No. 16 James Madison vs. No. 1 Indiana, 3:10 p.m. (TBS)

The Dukes are back in the tournament for the first time since 1994 and defeated LIU Brooklyn in an opening-round game. The Hoosiers, among the nation’s top offensive teams, shot just 38.3 in its Big Ten tourney loss to Wisconsin,

•  Pick: Indiana, 92-71

AT AUSTIN, TEXAS

•  No. 15 Pacific vs. No. 2 Miami, 1:10 p.m. (TNT)

Pacific took thumpings from NCAA teams California and Gonzaga and split with St. Mary’s. Miami’s Shane Larkin was the MVP of the ACC tournament and helped the Hurricanes to their first NCAA appearance since Frank Haith took them in 2008.

•  Pick: Miami, 83-68

No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois, 3:40 p.m. (TNT)

The Illini, who beat No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and Indiana this season, started 2-7 in Big Ten play but won six of their last nine regular-season games. The Buffaloes started Pac-12 play 1-4 before winning 10 of 15.

•  Pick: Illinois, 72-71

| Blair Kerkhoff bkerkhoff@kcstar.com

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