NCAA Tournament 2013: Viewer’s guide to Friday’s Sweet 16 games

Following a lackluster Thursday where 75 percent of the games were decided by double digits — although that Ohio State-Arizona game was great — we now arrive at Friday, where 50 percent of the teams hail from either Florida or Michigan. Not that the two percentages are related or anything, but a viewer’s guide needs some sort of introduction.

Onto the preview:

Midwest Region

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 12 Oregon, 7:15 p.m., CBS

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Michigan State, 9:45 p.m., CBS

South Region

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Michigan, 7:37 p.m., TBS

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, 10:07 p.m., TBS

MUST-SEE GAMES

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 3 Michigan State, 9:45 p.m., CBS

Coach K versus Tom Izzo — what could be better? Two of the game’s top minds match wits at Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium, each bringing with them an experienced and hungry squad that, in victory, could easily challenge for a Final Four bid. Krzyzewski and Izzo have reached the Final Four a combined 17 times.

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Michigan, 7:37 p.m., TBS

Not since the Fab Five era have the Wolverines danced for this long, and top-seeded Kansas stands in the way of an even bigger run. The Jayhawks had trouble against Western Kentucky in the opener, but blew out North Carolina by 12 points in the second round. Michigan’s highly anticipated matchup against VCU turned into a 25-point blowout,a and Coach John Beilein’s squad, led by national player of the year candidate Trey Burke, looked primed for an Elite Eight berth.

UPSET ALERT

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast

With all due respect to upstart Oregon, the upset alert begins and ends in Dunk City. Can the Eagles’s magical, slam-heavy run continue into the second weekend against Florida, one of the nation’s most efficient defensive teams? Or will the clock strike midnight on Andy Enfield and company, if the Gators slow down FGCU’s high-powered transition offense and squelch history in its tracks?

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Duke F Ryan Kelly: Affectionately dubbed “The White Raven,” Kelly has been dreadful from the field ever since returning from a foot injury with 36 points against Miami. He hasn’t hit a three-pointer in four games (0 for 10) and is shooting just 35 percent over the past five games (14 for 40). A hot game from him opens everything up for the Blue Devils, but if he’s not hitting, the Spartans will have an easier time handling Duke’s other weapons.

Michigan F Mitch McGary: All eyes will be on Burke, but McGary was the true catalyst last weekend. The blue-collar forward dropped 21 points and 14 rebounds on VCU, but will be matched up against some bigger Jayhawks. If he can continue that production, the Wolverines will be hard to beat.

BOLD PREDICTIONS


MUCH MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT COVERAGE

Miami runs into a Hurricane against Marquette

Jenkins: Florida Gulf Coast’s run a result of fun and fundamentals

FGCU Eagles stay loose and stick to their guns

Embrace of multipurpose arenas comes at a price

Boswell: How to fix Georgetown in March

A viewers guide to the Sweet 16

NCAA women’s tournament bracket

Photos: Scenes from the tournament

Obama picks his Final Four

Interactive bracket and NCAA tournament history database

The Bracket Challenge contest (Round-by-round)

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt | March 29, 2013