No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 11 George Mason
TIME -- 7:27 p.m.
RECORDS -- Wichita State 26-8, George Mason 25-7
HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Wichita State def. No. 10 Seton Hall 86-66, No. 2 Tennessee 80-73; George Mason def. No. 6 Michigan State 75-65, No. 3 North Carolina 65-60.
THE BUZZ -- These teams met in February in Wichita as part of ESPN's "BracketBusters," with George Mason winning, 70-67. George Mason has a balanced offensive attack, with all five starters averaging in double figures; in addition, the Patriots have had six different leading scorers in the past seven games. Chunky but agile big man Jai Lewis (6 feet 7, 275 pounds) is the leading scorer and rebounder; it's vital he avoid fouls and stay on the court because the depth-shy Patriots are a lot smaller without him. Guard Lamar Butler and Tony Skinn are able three-point shooters. Wichita State has four players in double figures, with the key guy 6-10 C Paul Miller. He and F Kyle Wilson (Illinois transfer) give the Shockers a nice low-post duo. As with George Mason, Wichita State has some good athletes on the perimeter, most notably swingman P.J. Couisnard and G Sean Ogirri (45.3 percent from three-point range, 84.7 percent from the line). The Patriots shot 52 percent from the field when they beat the Shockers last month.
No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 5 Washington
TIME -- 9:57 p.m.
RECORDS -- UConn 29-3, Washington 26-6
HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Connecticut def. No. 16 Albany 72-59, No. 8 Kentucky 87-83; Washington def. No. 12 Utah State 75-61, No. 4 Illinois 67-64.
THE BUZZ -- UConn struggled in each of its two games, with the players looking as if they believed they could simply flip the "on" switch when they wanted. As usual, UConn enjoys the advantage in the frontcourt; it would be interesting to see the kind of damage big men Hilton Armstrong, Josh Boone and Rudy Gay could do if they all decided to play well in the same game. UConn G Marcus Williams has been brilliant in the tournament thus far. Washington's hopes for an upset ride with swingman Brandon Roy (20.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.1 apg, 51.3 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from three-point range, 81.4 percent from the free-throw line). Washington also has enough athleticism in the frontcourt to hang with UConn, as long as F Jamaal Williams and F Jon Brockman avoid foul trouble.
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 4 Boston Coll.
TIME -- 7:10 p.m.
RECORDS -- Villanova 27-4, Boston College 28-7
HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Villanova def. No. 16 Monmouth 58-45, No. 8 Arizona 82-78; Boston College def. No. 13 Pacific 88-76 (2OTs), No. 12 Montana 69-56.
THE BUZZ -- A nice contrast at work here. Villanova is all about its guards; BC is all about its big men. Wildcats stars Randy Foye and Allan Ray will get open looks tonight. And even if they don't get open looks, they'll keep shooting (Villanova shoots a surprisingly low 42.6 percent from the field). And while the Wildcats' big men aren't productive offensively, there's a lot of athleticism there. Senior C Jason Fraser, who has had injury after injury and never lived up to his prep hype, could be important against BC because of his defensive skills. The Eagles will look to go inside all game, to Jared Dudley and Craig Smith (five consecutive double doubles). Reserve C Sean Williams is a big-time defensive presence. This may come down to how well BC's guards play. Sean Marshall and Louis Hinnant (a better than 2-1 assist-turnover ratio) have had their moments, and freshman Tyrese Rice may be the wild card because of his three-point shooting.
No. 3 Florida vs. No. 7 Georgetown
TIME -- 9:40 p.m.
RECORDS -- Florida 29-6, Georgetown 23-9.
HOW THEY GOT HERE -- Florida def. No. 14 South Alabama 76-50, No. 11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee 82-60; Georgetown def. No. 10 Northern Iowa 54-49, No. 2 Ohio State 70-52.
THE BUZZ -- Florida overpowered its first two NCAA foes in the paint, but the Hoyas have an enormous frontcourt of their own. Thus, this game also may come down to guard play. Fs Al Horford and Joakim Noah have been magnificent for the Gators - scoring, rebounding, defending, passing. F Corey Brewer and G Lee Humphrey have been solid, but PG Taurean Green has struggled with his offense, and that needs to change. Sophomore C Roy Hibbert (7-2, 283) gets most of the ink of the Georgetown big men, but 6-9 F Jeff Green is the most important player. He is an excellent passer, and the Hoyas' offense is at its best when he's able to direct traffic from the high post. F Brandon Bowman, also 6-9, completes the frontcourt trio. The guards are nothing special, though Ashanti Cook is a three-point threat.