Previewing Sunday’s NCAA Tournament round of 32 games

03/22/2014 8:33 PM

03/22/2014 8:33 PM

South Region

At St. Louis

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No. 10 Stanford vs. No. 2 Kansas, 11:15 a.m. (CBS)

The Cardinal held off New Mexico and the Jayhawks pulled away late from pesky Eastern Kentucky. Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins has a history with Kansas. As a Blue Devils guard, his teams beat KU twice in the 1985-86 season, including a national semifinal victory. Who guards Andrew Wiggins? He put up 19 on Friday.

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Pick:

Kansas 77-70

At San Diego

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No. 12 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 4 UCLA, 6:10 p.m. (TBS)

A four-point play with 3.8 seconds remaining? That’s how the Lumberjacks got to overtime against VCU and scored the upset for their 29th straight victory. It also helped that Stephen F. Austin shot 53 percent, led by Jacob Parker’s 22. The Bruins beat Tulsa 76-59 behind Jordan Adams’ 21 points, their first NCAA victory in three years.

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Pick:

UCLA 81-75

Midwest Region

At St. Louis

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No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 1 Wichita State, about 1:45 p.m. (CBS)

The Shockers are fighting for respect while the Wildcats receive it without actually trying — a preseason No. 1 ranking for a program coming off an opening-round NIT loss. Kentucky slogged through a defensive struggle against Kansas State after Wichita State pounded Cal Poly. This is the Shockers’ biggest challenge since the nonconference portion of the schedule.

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Pick:

Wichita State 68-64

At Raleigh, N.C.

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No. 14 Mercer vs. No. 11 Tennessee, 5:10 p.m. (TNT)

The unexpected round of 32 matchup. Mercer tries to make it two straight years in the Sweet 16 for the Atlantic Sun champion, following Florida Gulf Coast. The Bears were so impressive knocking off Duke that Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski visited the winner’s locker room to offer congratulations. Tennessee has been firecracker hot the last few weeks and blew past Massachusetts on Friday.

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Pick:

Tennessee 64-59

East Region

At San Antonio

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No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Iowa State, 4:15 p.m. (CBS)

The minutes will be spread around for Iowa State with Georges Niang is out, but Daniel Edozie and Matt Thomas are on the spot to pick up the slack of the forward who stretches defenses with his perimeter-shooting ability. The Tar Heels gutted it out against Providence when James Michael McAdoo was the hero at the free-throw line in the final seconds.

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Pick:

Iowa State 88-83

At Raleigh, N.C.

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No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 Memphis, about 7:40 p.m. (TNT)

The Cavaliers struggled with Coastal Carolina but avoided becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose its opener on the strength of Anthony Gill’s 17 points off the bench. Memphis also looked to the bench for its spark against George Washington as former Missouri guard Mike Dixon scored 19 points in 18 minutes.

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Pick:

Virginia 59-55

West Region

At San Antonio

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No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 3 Creighton, 6:45 p.m. (truTV)

Doug McDermott had a player-of-the-year type of performance against Louisiana-Lafayette with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Now he and the offensive-minded Bluejays take on Baylor’s zone, which was effective in the Bears’ pounding of Nebraska. Will there be pressure on the officials? The foul count in the Baylor-Nebraska game favored the Bears 31-16 and they had 48 free-throw attempts to the Cornhuskers’ 16.

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Pick:

Baylor 82-78

At San Diego

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No. 8 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 Arizona, about 8:40 p.m. (TBS)

After losing early as a No. 1 seed last year, the Zags are in their more familiar role as a giant-killer. They knocked off Oklahoma State on Friday and now take aim at the top-seeded Wildcats. Arizona left itself open to upset conversation after its slow start and choppy finish in its victory over Weber State. A 21-point lead melted into single digits in the final minutes.

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Pick: Arizona 68-60

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