March Madness: Titan Duels and Cinderella Teams in the Sweet Sixteen

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The March Madness chart

The March Madness tournament resumes Thursday with the top 16 teams still in contention. Of the lot, only two first seeds from their respective sections survived, Alabama and Houston, who will be in action on Friday. Arkansas (No. 8) is responsible for the downfall of a favorite, while Princeton (No. 15) is the lowest-ranked team still alive. Will they be able to pursue their dream journey?

Note that Canadian Marcus Carr, color bearer of the Texas Longhorns who are second in the Midwest, will try to extend his fifth and final university season against Xavier (No. 3) on Friday.

No. 3 Kansas State opens tomorrow against No. 7 Michigan State in the East. Kansas State has two major assets in Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell. The latter in particular is coming off a performance of 27 points and 9 assists against Kentucky. Michigan State is a three-point shooting specialist, ranking 6th in the nation, compared to 301st for its opponent.

The winner will face either the Tennessee Volunteers or the Florida Atlantic Owls. Despite losing Zakai Zeigler before the playoffs began, Tennessee remains a defensive powerhouse, having allowed no more than 55 points since the start of the tournament.

Also in action on Thursday, the surprising Arkansas Razorbacks qualified for the Sweet Sixteen for the third straight year by taking the first-round measure of Illinois and then favorites in the West, Kansas. However, they face a great offensive power, while the Huskies rank seventh in the country in their efficiency rate in this regard. Adama Sanogo impressed with 52 points in his first two games, plus 21 rebounds, while Jordan Hawkins is a perimeter threat.

To end the day, there will be a duel of titans between Gonzaga (3) and UCLA (2). UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. was named Pac-12 Player of the Year as a senior after averaging 31.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.1 steals per encounter. UCLA is also a defensive fortress, but the Bulldogs have been steamrollers this season on offense, with the best production across the NCAA at 87.3 points per game.

Thursday’s clashes

(3) Kansas State c. (7) Michigan State      18 h 30

(4) UConn c. (8) Arkansas             19 h 15

(4) Tennessee c. (9) FAU               21 h

(3) Gonzaga c. (2) UCLA                                21 h 45


(1) Alabama c. (5) San Diego State           18 h 30

(1) Houston c. (5) Miami               19 h 15

(6) Creighton c. (15) Princeton   21 h

(2) Texas c. (3) Xavier     21 h 45


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