Opening weekend of March Madness sets stage for Sweet 16
Some of the Madness goes down on the opening Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament, but some of the really good stuff happens on the first Saturday and Sunday, as the field that was 68 and then 32 is whittled down to 16.
Saturday at Rupp Arena top overall seed Louisville, after dispatching of North Carolina A&T Thursday 79-48, takes on No. 8 seed Colorado State, which just upset Missouri. And No. 3 seed Marquette, which needed a late basket to avoid being upset by Davidson Thursday, goes against No. 6 seed Butler, a winner Thursday over Bucknell.
At the Palace in Auburn Hills No. 3 seed Michigan State, an 11-point winner over Valparaiso Thursday, meets Memphis, which beat St. Mary's 54-52. And in what looks like one of the best matchups of the weekend No. 4 seed Michigan battles No. 5 seed VCU.
In San Jose No. 4 seed St. Louis, an easy winner over New Mexico State Thursday, goes against No. 12 seed Oregon, which just knocked off a No. 5 seed, Oklahoma State. And No. 4 seed Syracuse, an easy winner over Montana Thursday, gets No. 12 seed Cal, which just upset UNLV.
Finally, in Salt Lake City, No. 14 seed Harvard, which shocked No. 3 seed New Mexico Thursday night, takes a crack at No. 6 seed Arizona. And No. 1 seed Gonzaga, which got a scare from No. 16 seed Southern Thursday, goes against No. 9 seed Wichita State, which pulled a minor upset over Pitt.
In early betting Marquette was favored by two points over Butler; Michigan State was favored by 5.5 points over Memphis; Gonzaga was favored by six points over Wichita State; and St. Louis was chalked by 3.5 points over Oregon.
As of this writing we don't know who will be playing Sunday, but some of the better potential matchups include Kansas against either North Carolina or Villanova; Florida against either UCLA or Minnesota; Ohio State against either Notre Dame or Iowa State; and Miami versus either Illinois or Colorado.