Honestly, I'm much more excited for the Friday games this year than the Thursday slate. It just seems more interesting - Creighton is so much fun to watch, we played a number of teams that will be out on the court, and it really feels like the tournament hits its stride in the second day.
The game schedule, with tip-off times and TV information, can be found immediately below this paragraph. After that, let's look at some of the games that tie back to Carolina's season.
Friday's Game Schedule
|MidWest||Mercer Bears (14) vs. Duke Blue Devils(3)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||12:15p||CBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|West||Nebraska Cornhuskers (11) vs. Baylor Bears (6)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||12:40p||truTV||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Stanford Cardinal (10) vs. New Mexico Lobos (7)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||1:40p||TBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|West||Weber State Wildcats (16) vs. Arizona Wildcats (1)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||2:10p||TNT||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|MidWest||Iowa Hawkeyes/Tennessee Volunteers (11) vs. Massachusetts Minutemen (6)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||2:45p||CBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|West||Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (14) vs. Creighton Bluejays (3)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||3:10p||truTV||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Eastern Kentucky Colonels (15) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (2)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||4:10p||TBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|West||Oklahoma State Cowboys (9) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (8)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||4:40p||TNT||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|East||George Washington Colonials (9) vs. Memphis Tigers (8)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||6:55p||TBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|MidWest||Cal Poly Mustangs/ Texas Southern Tigers (16) vs. Wichita State Shockers (1)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||7:10p||CBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|East||Providence Friars (11) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (6)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||7:20p||TNT||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (12) vs. Virginia Commonwealth Rams (5)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||7:27p||truTV||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
|East||Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (16) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (1)||PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)||9:25p||TBS||Kevin Harlan/Len Elmore/Reggie Miller/Rachel Nichols|
|MidWest||Kansas State Wildcats (9) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (8)||Scottrade Center (St. Louis, MO)||9:40p||CBS||Jim Nantz/Greg Anthony/Tracy Wolfson|
|East||NC Central Eagles (14) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (3)||AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)||9:50p||TNT||Marv Albert/Steve Kerr/Craigh Sager|
|South||Tulsa Golden Hurricane (13) vs. UCLA Bruins (4)||Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl (San Diego, CA)||9:57p||truTV||Andrew Catalon/Mike Gminski/Otis Livingston|
So what should Carolina fans keep an eye on when watching the games on Friday?
- Hey, remember when we almost beat Baylor? Our seasons went in slightly opposite directions, but the Bears made a run late in the year to enter the tournament as a six seed. They take on former Big 12 rivals Nebraska, with the winner likely facing the hot-shooting Creighton Blue Jays in the next round.
- Hey, remember that time we didn't even come close to beating Oklahoma State? They spent a lot of the year without Marcus Smart (due to suspension), and Michael Cobbins (injured for the year), but rallied late behind Smart to stroll into the tournament as one of the most dangerous 9 seeds you'll ever see. Unfortunately for them, they're playing a terrific 8 seed in Gonzaga. This sould be a helluva game, with the winner certain to put a scare into Arizona in the next round.
- Tennessee, who ended our season last week, comes into its game against UMass fresh off a win in the interminably stupid First Four. The Vols are a terrific team and actually the favorites in this game. Some will chalk that up to mis-seeding, but the purpose of the NCAA seeding process isn't to reward greatness, it's to reward teams that put together the best season. And while the Vols are a great team, they put together a terrible season, one that barely got them into the dance to begin with. That said, I'd expect them to march on to the round of 32, where a difficult match-up with Duke likely awaits.
- North Carolina plays Providence at 7:20pm. Aren't they just the worst?
- Stephen F. Austin, coached by former Gamecock assistant Brad Underwood, squares off with Virginia Commonwealth in the evening slate. While the Lumberjacks represent an excellent 12 seed and come into this game on a 28-game winning streak, they don't have the strongest strength of schedule you'll find, and it's hard to prepare for HAVOC. Expect a good showing from the guys from Nacogdoches, though.
- In the 1 v 16 game, a host of story lines await Gamecock fans that tune in to see Virginia take on Coastal, which is good because there shouldn't be much of a reason to watch this game after 10 minutes or so of action. Still, if you tune in you'll see all sorts of things to harken back to Gamecock games of the past. Cliff Ellis - former Clemson coach - on the sidelines for Coastal! Coaching Eric Smith, who used to play for us (though he's getting less than 10 minutes a game for the Chants). Anthony Gil for Virginia, who transferred there because he wanted to play for Darrin Horn, in what I consider to be the most inexplicable thing anyone has ever done. Seriously, tons of story lines in this game for USC fans, and the game won't be remotely interesting otherwise.
- Kentucky takes on Kansas State in the evening match-ups. Hey, we beat them! Also, Frank Martin used to coach the Wildcats, so he'll probably check in on this game.
So that's a ton of things for Carolina fans to watch and discuss throughout the course of the day. So let's discuss them. This is your open thread.