Fast Forward To Friday Games

After 16 games are played on Thursday, 32 other teams will hook up Friday to complete the first round of NCAA Tournament action. Among them are No. 1 seeds Villanova, Connecticut and Memphis. And the first two of them will be playing in Philadelphia.

You'll need a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast – or least a long nap and a bagel and a couple of cups of coffee – but, after 16 games on Friday, all of which you can experience, courtesy the wonder of satellite television, you be should be rip-roarin' to go for the second day of the NCAA Tournament.


Here's a look at the Friday first-round games:


All times Eastern


At Auburn Hills

No. 3 Iowa (25-8) vs. No. 14 Northwestern State (25-7), 12:25 p.m.

Things to consider: After finishing a game behind first-place Ohio State during the regular season, the Hawkeyes knocked off the Buckeyes in the Big Ten tourney final. The Demons are a popular upset choice by some. But their wins over Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Oregon State seemed more noteworthy at the time than they do now.

Frank's Spin: Some might say that "Steve Alford's career as Iowa coach is extended at least one more game". We'll just say "Hawkeyes move on to Round 2".


No. 6 West Virginia (20-10) vs. No. 11 Southern Illinois (22-10), 2:55 p.m.

Things to consider: The Mountaineers have dropped six of their past nine games. Is it a case of "not playing well" or of "the Big East is that good". It is probably the latter. But they will have top play very well to beat the Salukis, who will be as solid a half-court defensive team as anything the Mountaineers saw in conference. Jamaal Tatum against WVU's Mike Gansey will be a nifty battle to keep an eye on.

Frank's Spin: Here's another "upset special" we had on Sunday that we're getting a little dicey on now. But we'll stick with the 11 seed in this one.


At Dallas

No. 7 California (20-10) vs. No. 10 North Carolina State (21-9), 7:20 p.m.

Things to consider:  There is no mystery as to who the Wolfpack has to contend with in order to knock off the team from Berkeley – Leon Powe, one of the dominant low-post presences in this field who averaged 24.2 points over the past 10 games. If they commit to doubling Powe every time he touches the ball, they will have to account for pretty good Cal shooters like Richard Midgley (who beat NCSU with a 3-pointer three years ago) and Ayinde Ubaka.

Frank's Spin: Unless the Wolfpack have the kind of success guarding Powe that UCLA did, Cal advances to a Sunday game.


No. 2 Texas 27-6) vs. No. 15 Pennsylvania (20-8), 9:50 p.m.

Things to consider: The best starting lineup in the country that doesn't reside in Storrs, Ct., shouldn't have much difficulty in knocking off a team making the program's sixth tournament appearance in eight years.

Frank's Spin: The Longhorns will face a much tougher obstacle Sunday on the road to Atlanta, regardless of who the opponent is.



At Auburn Hills

No. 5 Pittsburgh (24-7) vs. No. 12 Kent State (25-8), 7:10 p.m.

Things to consider: The Golden Flashes are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002, when they eliminated the Panthers in a Sweet 16 game. They're not as good as that team was and the Panthers are deeper and better, offensively, than in 2002. Look for Pitt Coach Jamie Dixon to have his team go inside to 6-11 Aaron Gray early and often.

Frank's Spin: The Panthers' game with Kansas Sunday should be a dandy.


No. 4 Kansas (25-7) vs. No. 13 Bradley (20-10), 9:40 p.m.

Things to consider: Never mind Texas' No. 2 seed. Kansas is the team playing the best basketball out of the Big 12, based on its conference tourney final victory over the Longhorns Sunday, and their streak of 15 wins in 16 games. Bradley has two players the Jayhawks will have to focus on in 7-foot sophomore Patrick O'Bryant and 6-7 senior Marcellus Sommerville.

Frank's Spin: Just a reminder – the Kansas-Pitt game will be worth watching Sunday.


At Dallas

No. 8 Arkansas (22-9) vs. No. 9 Bucknell (26-4), 12:30 p.m.

Things to consider: The Razorbacks did everything necessary down the stretch to go from bubble team to an at-large lock, winning six SEC games in a row (with Florida, Alabama and Tennessee among the victims) before losing to the Gators in an SEC tourney game. Ron Brewer is among the most versatile perimeter players in the country. Bucknell returned every starter from the team that knocked off Kansas in a first-round game last season. Two of the Bisons' losses came against No. 1 seeds Villanova and Duke, and a third to NCAA participant Northern Iowa.

Frank's Spin: A Bisons' victory here will not be nearly the shocker that their win over the Jayhawks was a year ago.


No. 1 Memphis (30-3) vs. No. 16 Oral Roberts (21-11), 3 p.m.

Things to consider: The Tigers have lost just once in the past 2 ½ months (at UAB on March 2, 80-74). Juniors (although it seems as if they have been at Oral Roberts for five or six years) Caleb Green and Ken Tutt could give the Tigers problems.

Frank's Spin: John Calipari earns his second NCAA Tournament victory in six years in Memphis.



At Dayton

No. 6 Michigan State (22-11) vs. No. 11 George Mason (23-7), 7:10 p.m.

Things to consider: Can anyone explain why the Spartans were only able to go .500 in Big Ten Conference play? That's perplexing, to say the least. But Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown and Paul Davis are too good to let Tom Izzo's team get stunned in the first round – although, based on the way the Spartans have played most of this season, it probably wouldn't be that stunning to some observers.

Frank's Spin: Michigan State advances to Round 2, so we can hold off on in-depth discussion of "what went wrong with the Spartans?" for a little while longer.


No. 3 North Carolina (22-7) vs. No. 14 Murray State (24-6), 9:40 p.m.

Things to consider: Don't be misled by the loss to Boston College in the ACC Tournament semifinals – the Tar Heels are playing exceptional basketball. And, offensively, at least, freshman Tyler Hansbrough is playing as well as any low-post player in the tournament. Forwards David Noel and Reyshawn Terry are playing very well, too.

Frank's Spin: The Tar Heels will play a Final Four semifinal "rematch", of sorts, with Michigan State Sunday.


At Philadelphia

No. 1 Connecticut (27-3) vs. No. 16 Albany (21-10), 7:25 p.m.

Things to consider:  Maybe Jim Calhoun used the couple of extra days off that the Huskies got after losing in the Big East Conference Tournament quarterfinals to drill his team on the importance of playing hard and with focus each night out, for the better part of 40 minutes. If that was the case and they took those lessons to heart, the Huskies are going to be difficult to beat – and then some.

Frank's Spin: Some day, a No. 16 seed will stun a No. 1. Some think it might even happen this season. But it's not going to happen in this game.


No. 8 Kentucky (21-12) vs. No. 9 UAB (24-6), 9:55 p.m.

Things to consider: Can the Wildcats stun Connecticut in the second round and make a deep NCAA Tournament run and prove all of those wrong who have thought of them as a mediocre team for most of the season? Well, they will have to get by the Blazers first, and that's far from a given.

Frank's Spin: One thing is certain – there's no danger that Coach Tubby Smith's team is going to be looking beyond this game and to a second-round matchup with Connecticut.



At Philadelphia

No. 8 Arizona (19-12) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin (19-11), 12:30 p.m.

Things to consider: Who could have imagined that these programs, Elite Eight participants last season, would have 23 losses between them going into the tournament? Hassan Adams returns for the Wildcats after being suspended for the Pac 10 Tournament. He and the Badgers' Alando Tucker will provide one of Friday's better individual matchups.

Frank's Spin: The team that tied for fourth place in the Big Ten edges the team that tied for fourth in the Pac 10.


No. 1 Villanova (25-4) vs. No. 16 Monmouth (19-14), 3 p.m.

Things to consider: Allan Ray will be seeing the rim a lot more clearly than was expected after he got poked in the eye against Pittsburgh in the Big East Conference Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Ray's presence wouldn't have been needed in this one, anyway. But it will be as soon as Sunday.

Frank's Spin: The Hawks become the latest fellows to find it difficult to guard Villanova's guards.


At Dayton

No. 2 Ohio State (25-5) vs. No. 15 Davidson (20-10), 12:15 p.m.

Things to consider: Four years ago the Wildcats lost to the Buckeyes in the first round of the tournament, 69-64. It's not going to be that close this time around, unless Brendan Winters turns in the same kind of performance (33 points) he produced in the Southern Conference Tournament championship win over Chattanooga.

Frank's Spin: The Buckeyes help the Big Ten teams go 6-0 in first-round games.


No. 7 Georgetown (21-9) vs. No. 10 Northern Iowa (23-9), 2:45 p.m.

Things to consider: This could be Friday's best game. The Hoyas have 11 wins over Big East foes and another over the tournament's top seed, Duke, on their resume.You want to know why Northern Iowa has a No. 10 seed despite just an 11-7 record in Missouri Valley Conference regular-season play? It's because of wins over Iowa (the Big Ten Tournament conference champion) and LSU (the regular-season Southeastern Conference title winner).

Frank's Spin: John Thompson III will take many Georgetown teams deep into NCAA Tournaments. But not this one, as the Panthers put one into the faces of the "the Missouri Valley Conference didn't deserve that many teams in the tournament" crowd.



Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at Read more of Burlison's pieces at

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