No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Connecticut
TIME/TV: 7:27 p.m., TBS
Iowa State can win if: It can overcome the loss of forward Georges Niang, who broke a bone in his right foot in the tournament opener. He had averaged 20.4 points in the previous five games. Guard DeAndre Kane and Big 12 Player of the Year Melvin Ejim will need to help make up for the scoring absence for a team that averaged a tournament-high 89 points in the first two games.
UConn can win if: Its 37th-ranked defense (63.7 points allowed per game) can slow down the Cyclones and force 3-point attempts by getting forwards Amida Brimah and DeAndre Daniels to clog the driving lanes. In six of their eight losses, the Huskies were outrebounded.
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Michigan State
TIME/TV: 9:57 p.m. (approx.), TBS
UVa can win if: It continues to smother opponents with its nation-leading defense (55.5 points allowed per game). In three of the Cavaliers’ losses, opponents were able to burn them from the 3-point line.
Michigan State can win if: Guard/forward Branden Dawson continues with his hot hand. He is averaging more than 16 points in the Spartans’ past five games. Michigan State will have to contend with Virginia’s slow, deliberate pace, and needs senior guard Keith Appling to reassert himself since a wrist injury kept him out of three games.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 11 Tennessee
TIME/TV: 7:15 p.m., CBS
Michigan can win if: It can break even on the glass, and hit its season average in shooting. The Wolverines hit 48 percent of its shots, and 39 percent from 3-point range.
Tennessee can win if: The other teams miss. Tennessee is nearly plus-9 in rebounding, giving it a chance in nearly every game. The Vols are erratic scoring – shooting 33 percent from 3-point range – but get after opponents enough that they can keep games close.
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 Kentucky
TIME/TV: 9:45 p.m. (approx.), CBS
Louisville can win if: It relies on the experience of veterans Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, both of whom were starters for last year’s national title team. This team can handle the ball and pressure the perimeter as well as any team. Pitino is 16-0 in regional semifinal games. The Cardinals’ problem will be size, which Kentucky will exploit.
Kentucky can win if: It plays the way it did Sunday against top-seeded Wichita State. Kentucky’s loaded class of freshmen played with the type of consistent intensity against a great team. That was the Wildcats’ best game of the season, and showed why it was the preseason No. 1. BTW, John Calipari is 5-1 against Rick Pitino.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram